New and Emerging Issues in International Agricultural Trade Law
Research Handbooks on the WTO series
Edited by Joseph A. McMahon and Melaku Geboye Desta
Chapter 6: GMOs: Trade and Welfare Impacts of Current Policies and Prospects for Reform
Kym Anderson and Lee Ann Jackson I. INTRODUCTION The agricultural biotechnology revolution of the past two decades has provided the world with an opportunity to rapidly accelerate growth in the production of food, feed, ﬁbre and biofuel crops as well as livestock. Beginning in 1996, the area sown to crops with genetically modiﬁed organisms (GMOs) grew to 148 million hectares by 2010, currently spread over 29 countries but expected to involve 40 countries by 2015 (James, 2009). This uptake is rapid even by the standards of the last century, when hybrid varieties dramatically increased average corn yields during the 1940s (Griliches, 1958) and dwarf varieties of highyielding wheat and rice caused what became known as the Green Revolution in Asia and elsewhere from the 1960s onwards (Evenson and Gollin, 2003). Yet this new technology’s reach has been limited to date by the reluctance of many countries to embrace it, ostensibly for fear of its possible eﬀects on the environment, on food safety, or on access to markets in countries not yet at ease with GMOs. Uncertainty about market access occurs due to the diverse regulatory response countries have had to the environmental and food safety aspects of these products. In the United States (US), GM crop varieties were introduced to the food system in the mid-1990s without any requirements for identifying their GMO content, allowing their rapid adoption. By contrast in the 1990s the EC instituted a requirement that the GM content in food be disclosed on food...
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