On application of the precautionary principle to ban GMVs: an evolutionary model of new seed technology integration

S.V. Ramani*, M.-A. El-Aroui

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Since the 1990s, agri-biotech multinationals have introduced a radical innovation in the form of seeds derived from genetically modified plant varieties or GMVs. However, on the basis of the ‘precautionary principle’ that advocates ensuring a higher environmental protection through preventative decision-taking, many countries have banned the cultivation of GMVs within their territories. Thus, the objective of the present paper is to attempt to explore the rationale for application of the precautionary principle. This is done through development of an evolutionary model of farmers’ technology choice incorporating intrinsic features of agriculture such as the technological obsolescence of seed varieties, impact of environmental degradation engendered by new seed technology adoption and farmers’ compliance choice vis-à-vis sustainability guidelines. Further, instead of a unique representative farmer, two types of farmers are considered. The first type is driven by short term profit maximization, while the second type aims to be sustainable, by maximizing profit over the life time of the technology. Integrating the above elements and considering two possible rules for application of the precautionary principle, the paper explores the conditions under which the precautionary principle can be implemented. It demonstrates that, even under complete and perfect information the need to exercise such caution depends principally on four factors: the economic gains from GMVs, the possibilities for sustaining the production of the conventional variety in the post-GMV period via compliance, the distribution of farmers over types and the compliance-contamination burden.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1243-1266
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Economics
Volume30
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

JEL classifications

  • o33 - "Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes"
  • o30 - "Technological Change; Research and Development; Intellectual Property Rights: General"

Keywords

  • Ecology
  • Evolutionary model
  • Farmer heterogeneity
  • GMV seed
  • Irreversibility
  • Precautionary principle
  • Technology obsolescence
  • GREEN-REVOLUTION
  • AGRICULTURAL INNOVATIONS
  • INSECT RESISTANCE
  • ADOPTION
  • BUFFER ZONES
  • IMPACT
  • IRREVERSIBILITY
  • INVESTIGATING FARMERS PREFERENCES
  • GENETICALLY-MODIFIED CROPS
  • BT COTTON

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