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Adoption and impact of the first GM crop introduced in EU agriculture: Bt maize in Spain

  • Authors: Manuel Gómez-Barbero, Julio Berbel, Emilio Rodríguez-Cerezo
  • EUR Number: 22778 EN
  • Publication date: 6/2008


This report analyses the process of adoption by farmers of the only GM crop cultivated in Europe. Bt maize is a transgenic crop resistant to an important group of pests (the maize borers). The report used data from a survey carried out among 402 commercial maize farms, including both adopters and non adopters of Bt maize during three growing seasons (2002-2004). Farmers were based in three Spanish provinces (Zaragoza, Lleida and Albacete) situated in leading Bt maize growing areas of Spain. All farmers were producing maize for feed manufacturing.
The survey found that Bt maize, like other pest-control technologies, produced variable impacts on maize yields in different provinces, ranging from neutral to 11.8% yield increase. Yield gains for growers of Bt maize were translated into revenue increase since no differences were found in the price paid to farmers for Bt or conventional maize. Regarding production costs, Bt maize growers paid more for the seeds than conventional growers, but had reduced insecticide use and costs. On average, growers of conventional maize applied 0.86 insecticide treatments/year to control borers versus 0.32 treatments/year applied by Bt maize growers. All things considered, the impact of Bt maize adoption on gross margin obtained by farmers in different provinces ranged from neutral to € 122/ha and year. In the survey, the reason most quoted by farmers for adopting Bt maize was "lowering the risk of maize borer damage" followed by "obtaining higher yields".
The report concludes that the differences in yields and gross margin are attributable to the adoption of Bt maize varieties and not to differences in the socio-economic profiles or technical capability of the farmers surveyed.

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