The economic value of genetically modified, insect-resistant maize, also known as Bt maize, is relative. This is shown in a literature review carried out by Federal Research Station Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon ART, in which experiences of the economic viability of Bt maize were collected from EU countries in which commercial cultivation is taking place. The results show that Bt maize per se does not deliver increased yields. Economic value must be considered in relation to corn borer infestation at any particular time. Increased yields of up to 15 percent can be obtained when infestation is severe to very severe. In cases of low and moderate infestation, however, conventional maize hybrids are superior when appropriately grade-selected. Savings in insecticides may indeed be made thanks to Bt maize, although to date their use has been restricted to a few farms. Moreover, the price of Bt maize seed is around one third higher. However increased returns and/or reduced forage costs can be achieved when corn borer infestation is severe to very severe and the increased yield from Bt maize exceeds the higher cost of seed. The study does not take the cost and expense of coexistence measures into consideration. The transfer of results to circumstances in Switzerland is possible only up to a point because of differences in Swiss structures, price levels and infestation risks.
To balance their nutrient cycles, Swiss farms export surplus farmyard manure to farms with free uptake capacities or to composting and anaerobic digestion facilities. Between 2015 and 2020 the volumes of organic manure and recycled fertilisers transported rose significantly, with a consequent increase in transport costs.
Employment in the agricultural sector is declining in many European countries, especially in livestock farming. Direct payments can counter this trend and lead to the employment of more – especially female – family members on the farm.
Despite the current challenges of e.g. the war in Ukraine and climate change, the Swiss food sector is relatively resilient. This is the conclusion reached by Agroscope’s report on behalf of the Swiss Federal Office for National Economic Supply.