Teagasc Highlight the Economic Implications of GM Crop Technology in Irish Agriculture
30 April 2007
A seminar on issues associated with genetically modified (GM) crop technology in Irish agriculture was recently held in Dublin. The event was organised by Teagasc, Rural Economy Research Centre, in association with the Agricultural Economics Society of Ireland and the Agricultural Science Association.
Presently, no GM crops are cultivated in Ireland. However, it is anticipated that the introduction of co-existence guidelines could encourage the uptake of certain GM varieties. Hence, this timely seminar focused on regulatory, management and economic issues that will become increasingly important in the debate on the implications of GM technology for Irish agriculture.
Mr Gerry Lohan, Department of Agriculture and Food, discussed the regulatory issues in relation to GM crop technology and the co-existence of GM and non-GM crops in Irish agriculture, while Dr Ewen Mullins of Teagasc Crops Research Centre, outlined findings from recent research on GM crop technology in Ireland.
Dr Fiona Thorne, Teagasc Rural Economy Centre, presented research findings from an inter-disciplinary project which examined the potential economic implications for Ireland of a voluntary adoption of a GM-free island.
This analysis provides an assessment of the likely impact on profitability of
a ban on the use and production of GM crops in Ireland. Dr Thorne said
From this research it is clear that the likely costs to the livestock industry
in particular are significant, when a total ban on the import and cultivation of
GM crops is considered. While the net benefit, for crop, livestock and dairy
farms, resulting from the growing of GM cereal crops is not as significant as
the benefits arising from the use of imported sources of GM soyabean and maize,
it is important not to consider these two scenarios in isolation from each
The net economic cost, if Ireland adopted a voluntary ban on the import and cultivation of GM crops is estimated to be approximately €7 million per annum, rising to nearly €40 million per annum when different scenarios were analysed. The cost, for cereal farms and specialist dairy and beef farms was considered in aggregate.
It is important to note that this report does not attempt to forecast changes in market prices or demand, if there were increased levels of GM crop technology adopted by agriculture in Ireland and overseas. Hence, the results of the study cannot be used to forecast either future market prices or the demand for GM and non-GM crops.