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Critical Reviews in Biotechnology
2015, doi:10.3109/07388551.2014.990413

Genetically modified crops and small-scale farmers: main opportunities and challenges

Hossein Azadi, Atry Samiee, Hossein Mahmoudi, Zeynab Jouzi, Parisa Rafiaani Khachak, Philippe De Maeyer, and Frank Witlox

Department of Geography, Ghent University, Ghent , Belgium.


Although some important features of genetically modified (GM) crops such as insect resistance, herbicide tolerance, and drought tolerance might seem to be beneficial for small-scale farmers, the adoption of GM technology by smallholders is still slight. Identifying pros and cons of using this technology is important to understand the impacts of GM crops on these farmers. This article reviews the main opportunities and challenges of GM crops for small-scale farmers in developing countries. The most significant advantages of GM crops include being independent to farm size, environment protection, improvement of occupational health issues, and the potential of bio-fortified crops to reduce malnutrition. Challenges faced by small-scale farmers for adoption of GM crops comprise availability and accessibility of GM crop seeds, seed dissemination and price, and the lack of adequate information. In addition, R&D and production costs in using GM crops make it difficult for these farmers to adopt the use of these crops. Moreover, intellectual property right regulations may deprive resource poor farmers from the advantages of GM technology. Finally, concerns on socio-economic and environment safety issues are also addressed in this paper.

Keywords: Biotechnology, biosafety, developing countries, GM technology, small-scale farming, resource-poor farmers.

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