Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Economic Growth and Technological Change: Biotechnology and Sustainability

In class we spoke of the impact that technological change can have on economic growth, and we viewed the following video regarding biotechnology:

You can find an additional video regarding technological change in beef production and its impact on sustainability here:  Feedlot Cattle are Most 'Green.'

 This report from the UN's Economic Commission for Africa: "Harnessing Technologies for Sustainable Development"  highlights (especially in Ch 3) the impacts of biotechnology on economic growth and sustainability in developing nations.

Most recently, research from the journal Science provides examples of positive externalities or 'spillover' effects from biotech corn to non-biotech  farmers.

Below is a listing of peer reviewed articles related to the impacts of biotechnology on productivity and sustainability in agriculture.

It would be extremely biased to present to you the claim that biotechnology is the panacea for sustainable economic growth, however it certainly provides a great example of how technological change can improve productivity and lead to economic growth.

Related Research:

The environmental impact of dairy production: 1944 compared with 2007. Journal of Animal Science,Capper, J. L., Cady, R. A., Bauman, D. E. 2009; 87 (6): 2160 DOI: 10.2527/jas.2009-1781

-reduced carbon footprint in dairy production

Communal Benefits of Transgenic Corn. Bruce E. Tabashnik  Science 8 October 2010:Vol. 330. no. 6001, pp. 189 - 190DOI: 10.1126/science.1196864

"Bt corn planted near non-Bt corn can provide the unmodified plants with indirect protection from pests"

“Antimicrobial Resistance: Implications for the Food System.” Doyle et al., Institute of Food Technologists
Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, Vol.5, Issue 3, 2006ter for Molecular

-safety of pharmaceutical technologies in food production in relation to antibiotic use in livestock

"Microbiological Quality of Ground Beef From Conventionally-Reared Cattle and "Raised without Antibiotics" Label Claims" Journal of Food Protection, July 2004,Vol 67 Issue 7 p. 1433-1437

-factors other than the sub therapeutic use of antibiotics in beef production contribute to antimicrobial resistant bacteria in ground beef

San Diego Center for Molecular Agriculture: Foods from Genetically Modified Crops ( pdf)

-summary of environmental and health benefits of biotechnology

‘‘Hybrid Corn.’’ Abelson, P.H. (1990) Science 249 (August 24): 837. -improved diversity of crops planted

Enterprise and Biodiversity: Do Market Forces Yield Diversity of Life? David Schap and Andrew T. Young Cato Journal, Vol. 19, No. 1  (Spring/Summer 1999)

-improved diversity of crops planted

A Meta-Analysis of Effects of Bt Cotton and Maize on Nontarget Invertebrates. Michelle Marvier, Chanel McCreedy, James Regetz, Peter Kareiva Science 8 June 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5830, pp. 1475 – 1477

-reduced impact on biodiversity

‘‘Diversity of United States Hybrid Maize Germplasm as Revealed by Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphisms.’’ Smith, J.S.C.; Smith, O.S.; Wright, S.; Wall, S.J.; and Walton, M. (1992) Crop Science 32: 598–604

-improved diversity of crops planted

Comparison of Fumonisin Concentrations in Kernels of Transgenic Bt Maize Hybrids and Nontransgenic Hybrids. Munkvold, G.P. et al . Plant Disease 83, 130-138 1999.

-Improved safety and reduced carcinogens in biotech crops

Indirect Reduction of Ear Molds and Associated Mycotoxins in Bacillus thuringiensis Corn Under Controlled and Open Field Conditions: Utility and Limitations. Dowd, J. Economic Entomology. 93 1669-1679 2000.

-Improved safety and reduced carcinogens in biotech crops

“Why Spurning Biotech Food Has Become a Liability.’' Miller, Henry I, Conko, Gregory, & Drew L. Kershe. Nature Biotechnology Volume 24 Number 9 September 2006.

-Health and environmental benefits of biotechnology

Genetically Engineered Crops: Has Adoption Reduced Pesticide Use? Agricultural Outlook ERS/USDA Aug 2000

-environmental benefits and reduced pesticide use of biotech crops

GM crops: global socio-economic and environmental impacts 1996- 2007. Brookes & Barfoot PG Economics report

-environmentalbenefits of biotech: reduced pollution, improved safety, reduced carbon footprint

Soil Fertility and Biodiversity in Organic Farming. Science 31 May 2002: Vol. 296. no. 5573, pp. 1694 – 1697 DOI: 10.1126/science.1071148

-20% lower yields in non-biotech organic foods

‘Association of farm management practices with risk of Escherichia coli contamination in pre- harvest produce grown in Minnesota and Wisconsin.’ International Journal of Food Microbiology Volume 120, Issue 3, 15 December 2007, Pages 296-302

-comparison of E.Coli risks and modern vs. organic food production methods, odds of contamination are 13x greater for organic production

The Environmental Safety and Benefits of Growth Enhancing Pharmaceutical Technologies in Beef Production. By Alex Avery and Dennis Avery, Hudson Institute, Centre for Global Food Issues.

-Grain feeding combined with growth promotants also results in a nearly 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs) per pound of beef compared to grass feeding (excluding nitrous oxides), with growth promotants accounting for fully 25 percent of the emissions reductions- see also: Organic, Natural and Grass-Fed Beef: Profitability and constraints to Production in the Midwestern U.S. Nicolas Acevedo John D. Lawrence Margaret Smith August, 2006. Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture)

Lessons from the Danish Ban on Feed Grade Antibiotics. Dermot J. Hayes and Helen H. Jenson. Choices 3Q. 2003. American Agricultural Economics Association.

-Ban on feed grade sub- therapeutic antibiotics lead to increased reliance on therapeutic antibiotics important to human health.

Does Local Production Improve Environmental and Health Outcomes. Steven Sexton. Agricultural and Resource Economics Update, Vol 13 No 2 Nov/Dec 2009. University of California.

-local production offers no benefits to sustainability

Greenhouse gas mitigation by agricultural intensification Jennifer A. Burneya,Steven J. Davisc, and David B. Lobella.PNAS  June 29, 2010   vol. 107  no. 26  12052-12057

-'industrial agriculture' aka family farms utilizing modern production technology have a mitigating effect on climate change

Clearing the Air: Livestock's Contribution to Climate ChangeMaurice E. Pitesky*, Kimberly R. Stackhouse† and Frank M. MitloehnerAdvances in Agronomy Volume 103, 2009, Pages 1-40

-transportation accounts for at least 26% of total anthropogenic GHG emissions compared to roughly 5.8% for all of agriculture & less than 3% associated with livestock production vs. 18% wrongly attributed to livestock by the FAO report 'Livestock's Long Shadow' Conclusion: intensified 'modern' livestock production is consistent with a long term sustainable production strategy

Large Agriculture Improves Rural Iowa Communities

-"favorable effect of large-scale agriculture on quality of life in the 99 Iowa communities we studied"

Comparing the Structure, Size, and Performance of Local and Mainstream FoodSupply Chains
Robert P. King, Michael S. Hand, Gigi DiGiacomo,Kate Clancy, Miguel I. Gómez, Shermain D. Hardesty,Larry Lev, and Edward W. McLaughlin
Economic Research Report Number 99 June 2010

-Study finds that fuel use per cwt for local food production was 2.18 gallons vs. .69 and 1.92 for intermediate and traditional supply chains for beef