BOX 1-1

Statement of Task

An NRC committee will study the farm-level impacts of biotechnology, including the economics of adopting genetically engineered crops, changes in producer decision making and agronomic practices, and farm sustainability.

The study will:

  • review and analyze the published literature on the impact of GE crops on the productivity and economics of farms in the United States;

  • examine evidence for changes in agronomic practices and inputs, such as pesticide and herbicide use and soil and water management regimes;

  • evaluate producer decision making with regard to the adoption of GE crops.

In a consensus report, the committee will present the findings of its study and identify future applications of plant and animal biotechnology that are likely to affect agricultural producers’ decision making in the future.

  1. Sustain the economic viability of farm operations.

  2. Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.” (Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990)

This definition conceives of sustainable farming systems that address salient environmental, economic, and social aspects and their interrelationships.

The report explores how GE crops contribute to achieving several of the conditions enumerated above. Farmers must continually adapt in response to environmental, economic, and social conditions by learning and adopting new practices. Adopting GE crops is one option some farmers make in adapting to changing conditions.

Though the three aspects of sustainability often interact with one another, the report organizes each in a separate chapter to facilitate access to the information. The chapter on production economics follows the environmental chapter because many of the economic gains and losses that farmers experience with GE crops result from changes occurring within the farm environment from GE-crop adoption. The chapter on social effects is brief because of a lack of published literature on the

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