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Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag

24.04.2009 | New publication:

Transgenic seeds in developing countries

Experience, challenges, perspectives

In a TA project TAB has analysed comprehensively the impact of the use of transgenic seeds on economic, societal and political structures in developing countries. The final report was presented to the Committee on Education, Re-search and Technology Assessment of the Bundestag by project manager Dr. Arnold Sauter on April 22nd 2009. The PDF-document is now available for download.

The TAB report with its title »Transgenic seeds in developing countries – experience, challenges, perspectives« provides an overview of the international debate with respect to chances and risks of the utilisation of genetically modified varieties in developing countries. Another focus is formed by four case studies of countries with extensive and with - up to now - limited deployment of GM plants: Brazil, Chile, China, and Costa Rica. The investigation shows that the fiercest disputes arise worldwide around the topics participation and social compatibility and not primarily around technological-scientific questions of biological safety.

It is revealed that the available data on the socioeconomic effects are still scarce even after twelve years of increasing commercial cultivation of transgenic seeds. It is also obvious that the spectrum of plant species, varieties, and characteristics is still very limited.

The question if genetically modified plants could provide differentiated adapted options for agricultural economies of varying stage of development cannot be answered definitely. Therefore further debate is necessary and should be carried out in a problem-oriented manner. Based on the central challenges for agriculture, approaches for GM breeding should be analysed and compared to alternative options with respect to their problem solving capability without predetermination.