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Heterogeneous Yield Impacts from Adoption of Genetically Engineered Corn and the Importance of Controlling for Weather

Heterogeneous Yield Impacts from Adoption of Genetically Engineered Corn and the Importance of Controlling for Weather

Chapter:
(p.11) 1 Heterogeneous Yield Impacts from Adoption of Genetically Engineered Corn and the Importance of Controlling for Weather
Source:
Agricultural Productivity and Producer Behavior
Author(s):
Jayson L. LuskJesse TackNathan P. Hendricks
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226619941.003.0001

Concern about declining growth in crop yields has renewed debates about the ability of biotechnology to promote food security. While experimental and farm-level studies have found that adoption of genetically engineered (GE) crops has been associated with yield gains, aggregate and cross-country comparisons seem to show little effect. We study this using a panel of United States county-level corn yields from 1980 to 2015 in conjunction with data on adoption of GE crops, weather, and soil characteristics. Our panel data contain just over 28,000 observations spanning roughly 800 counties. We show that changing weather patterns confound simple analyses of trend yield, and only after controlling for weather do we find that GE crops have increased yields above trend. There is marked heterogeneity in the effect of adoption of GE crops across location partially explained by differential soil characteristics which may be related to insect pressure. While adoption of GE crops has the potential to mitigate risks from weeds and insects, we find no effects of adoption on yield variability nor on resilience to heat or water stress. On average, across all counties, we find adoption of GE corn was associated with a 17 percent increase in corn yield.

Keywords:   biotechnology, climate change, genetic engineering, GE

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