Global value of GM rice: a review of expected agronomic and consumer benefits
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Unlike the other major crops, no genetically modified (GM) varieties of rice have been commercialized at a large scale. Within the next 2-3 years new transgenic rice varieties could be ready for regulatory approval and subsequent commercialization, though. Given the importance of rice as staple crop for many of the world's poorest people, this will have implications for the alleviation of poverty, hunger and malnutrition. Thus, policy-makers need to be aware of the potential benefits of GM rice. We provide an overview of the literature and discuss the evidence on expected agronomic and consumer benefits of genetically engineered rice. We find that while GM rice with improved agronomic traits could deliver benefits similar to already commercialized biotechnology crops, expected benefits of consumer traits could be higher by an order of magnitude. By aggregating the expected annual benefits, we estimate the global value of GM rice to be US$64 billion per year. This is only an indicative value, as more GM varieties will become available in future. Nevertheless, such a figure can help guide policy-makers when deciding on the approval or funding of biotechnology crops and it may also raise awareness among consumers about what is at stake for their societies.
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