The Journal of Agricultural Science

Crops and Soils Review

Economic and agronomic impact of commercialized GM crops: a meta-analysis

F. J. AREALa1 c1 p1, L. RIESGOa1 p2 and E. RODRÍGUEZ-CEREZOa1

a1 European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), Edificio Expo, Avda. Inca Garcilaso 3, E-41092 Seville, Spain


The present paper presents a meta-analysis of the economic and agronomic performance of genetically modified (GM) crops worldwide. Bayesian, classical and non-parametric approaches were used to evaluate the performance of GM crops v. their conventional counterparts. The two main GM crop traits (herbicide tolerant (HT) and insect resistant (Bt)) and three of the main GM crops produced worldwide (Bt cotton, HT soybean and Bt maize) were analysed in terms of yield, production cost and gross margin. The scope of the analysis covers developing and developed countries, six world regions, and all countries combined. Results from the statistical analyses indicate that GM crops perform better than their conventional counterparts in agronomic and economic (gross margin) terms. Regarding countries’ level of development, GM crops tend to perform better in developing countries than in developed countries, with Bt cotton being the most profitable crop grown.

(Received February 11 2011)

(Revised December 07 2011)

(Accepted January 20 2012)

(Online publication February 28 2012)


c1 To whom all correspondence should be addressed. Email:

p1 Currently at the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, Whiteknights, RG6 6AR, Reading, UK.

p2 Currently at the Department of Economics, Pablo de Olavide University, Seville, Spain.