Transgenic Crops to Address Third World Hunger? A Critical Analysis

01 August 2005

ABSTRACT. Industry and mainstream research and policy institutions often suggest that transgenic crop varieties can raise the productivity of poor third world farmers, feed the hungry, and reduce poverty. These claims are critically evaluated by examining global-hunger data, the constraints that affect the productivity of small farmers in the third world, and the factors that explain their poverty. No significant role is found for crop genetics in determining hunger, productivity, or poverty, casting
doubt on the ability of new transgenic crop varieties produced by genetic engineering to address these problems. An examination of the special risks these varieties pose for poor farmers in the complex, diverse, and risk-prone environments that characterize peasant agriculture on a global scale suggests that transgenic crop varieties are likely to be more of hindrance than a help to the advancement of poor farmers.
Keywords: transgenic; genetic engineering; poverty; hunger; productivity; third world; risks; peasant, agriculture.