NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

How Agricultural Biotechnology Boosts Food Supply and Accomodates Biofuels

Steven Sexton, David Zilberman

NBER Working Paper No. 16699
Issued in January 2011
NBER Program(s):   EEE

Increased global demand for biofuels is placing increased pressure on agricultural systems at a time when traditional sources of yield improvements have been mostly exhausted, generating concerns about the future of food prices. This paper estimates the impact of global adoption of genetically engineered (GE) seeds on food supply by exploiting the spatial and temporal variation in the adoption of GE crops to identify the average yield effect due to GE technologies among adopters. The yield gains range from 65% for GE cotton to 12.4% for soybeans and appear to be higher in the developing world than in developed countries. The authors simulate food prices during the 2008 food crisis without GE-seed-induced yield gains. Genetically engineered crops appear to play an important role in arbitrating tensions between energy production, environmental protection, and global food supplies.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16699

Published: Land for Food and Fuel Production: The Role of Agricultural Biotechnology, Steven Sexton, David Zilberman. in The Intended and Unintended Effects of U.S. Agricultural and Biotechnology Policies, Graff Zivin and Perloff. 2012

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