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Taking stock of the genetically modified seed sector worldwide: market, stakeholders, and prices

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Abstract

The seed sector has become a subject of attention, debate, and even controversy with the development of genetically modified (GM) crops. However, this sector is generally rather poorly known. This paper aims to take stock of the economy of transgenic seeds in order to better understand the structure of this seed sector, its size, stakeholders, pricing, and major trends. The global market of the various types of seeds (saved, conventional, and transgenic) is first presented, as well as some aspects of their development, such as the significant consolidation in the past few decades. Next, the economic characteristics of the transgenic seed sector are analysed: actors, research and development expenditures, and the value of technology fees. In the final section, the cost of transgenic seeds is studied at the farm level, notably through the case of soybeans in the United States. The rise in transgenic seed prices over time is analysed as well as some repercussions of the growing trend toward the use of stacked traits. The conclusion highlights some issues related to the use of transgenic seeds from the point of view of seed and food security.

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Notes

  1. “Event” in this context refers to the transformation of an organism by inserting a piece of DNA into its genome in a particular location; a single transgene incorporated in two different sites thus leads to two different events.

Abbreviations

GM:

Genetically Modified

GMO:

Genetically Modified Organism

GT:

Glyphosate-Tolerant

HT:

Herbicide-Tolerant

NGO:

Non-Governmental Organization

R&D:

Research and Development

SMEs:

Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises

USDA:

United States Department of Agriculture

USDA-ERS:

USDA Economic Research Service

USDA-NASS:

USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

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Bonny, S. Taking stock of the genetically modified seed sector worldwide: market, stakeholders, and prices. Food Sec. 6, 525–540 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-014-0357-1

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