Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon Research Station ART, CH-8356 Ettenhausen

Economicvalue of Bt maize is relative

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.

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