Soybeans in Argentina: Benefits and Lessons for the Future

14 Apr 2008 The Argentinean case is a clear example of how societies can benefit from agricultural biotechnologies. GM crops (herbicide-tolerant soybeans) were introduced in 1996, and since nine additional events have been released commercially. At the present, GM varieties represented over 99% of planted soybeans, 75% of maize and 80% for cotton. Along this process, Argentina has become the second largest producer of GM crops, with over 19.5 million hectares planted. Overall this process has resulted in more than doubling of grain and oilseed production and significant economic benefits, estimated to be more than 20 billion USD for the 10 years past since their introduction (19.7 billion originated in soybeans, about 500 million form maize and about 20 million from insect-resistant cotton, with most of the benefits going to farmers). The presentation analyzes the main aspects of this process as well as its implications for natural resources use and other indirect effects on the wider economy, including nutrient extraction and potential future productivity losses, economic growth and employment creation, among other aspects. Out of these experiences several important issues come as lessons for the future. Emphasis is made on the benefits of the early adopter. It is clear that those countries that came early on into the technologies benefited the most, and that this behavior even contributed to global benefits. Related to this aspect is the importance of the institutional framework – biosafety regulations and a seed industry - to be able to benefit from the technologies. Finally, other policies implications covering biosafety / trade / infrastructure considerations are also touché upon as critical components for assuring the full exploitation of thetechnologies’ potential benefits. Eduardo J. Trigo
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