Research Handbook on the WTO Agriculture Agreement

Research Handbook on the WTO Agriculture Agreement

New and Emerging Issues in International Agricultural Trade Law

Research Handbooks on the WTO series

Edited by Joseph A. McMahon and Melaku Geboye Desta

Agriculture has been the unruly horse of the GATT/WTO system for a long time and efforts to halter it are still ongoing. This Research Handbook focuses on aspects of agricultural production and trade policy that are recognized for their importance but are often kept out of the limelight, such as the implication of national and international agricultural production and trade policies on national food security, global climate change, and biotechnology. It provides a summary of the state of the WTO agriculture negotiations as well as the relevant jurisprudence, but also, and uniquely, it focuses on the new and emerging issues of agricultural trade law and policy that are rarely addressed in the existing literature.

Chapter 6: GMOs: Trade and Welfare Impacts of Current Policies and Prospects for Reform

Kym Anderson and Lee Ann Jackson

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, international economics, environment, environmental economics


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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