the farmer—have received much less attention. To fill that information gap, the National Research Council initiated a study, supported by its own funds, of how GE crops have affected U.S. farmers—their incomes, agronomic practices, production decisions, environmental resources, and personal well-being. This report of the study’s findings expands the perspectives from which genetic-engineering technology has been examined previously. It provides the first comprehensive assessment of the effects of GE-crop adoption on farm sustainability in the United States (Box S-1).

In interpreting its task, the committee chose to analyze the effects of GE crops on farm-level sustainability in terms of environmental, economic, and social effects. To capture the broad array of potential effects, the committee interpreted “farm level” as applying both to farmers who do not produce GE crops and those who do because genetic engineering is a technology of extensive scope, and its influences on farming practices have affected both types of farmers. Therefore, to the extent that peer-reviewed literature is available, the report draws conclusions about the environmental, economic, and social effects, both favorable and unfavorable, associated with the use of GE crops for all farmers in the United States over the last 14 years. The report encapsulates what is known about the effects of GE crops on farm sustainability and identifies where more


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.

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