rburns001's picture
How much more would food cost if GMOs were not used?

A:Expert Answer

There are a lot of factors that would influence the cost impact of eliminating GMOs. In fact, this is the topic of a 2010 study by Graham Brookes, Tun-Hsiang (Edward) Yu, Simla Tokgoz and Amani Elobeid from the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development at Iowa State University. Following is an excerpt from this research that addresses your question.


“…The analysis suggests that world prices of corn, soybeans and canola would probably be, respectively, 5.8%, 9.6% and 3.8% higher, on average, than 2007 baseline levels if this technology was no longer available to farmers. Prices of key derivatives of soybeans (meal and oil) would also be between 5% and 9% higher, with rapeseed meal and oil prices being about 4% higher than baseline levels. World prices of related cereals and oilseeds would also be expected to be higher by 3% to 4%.


"The effect of no longer using the current widely used biotech traits in the corn, soybean and canola sectors would probably impact negatively on both the global supply and utilization of these crops, their derivatives and related markets for grain and oilseeds. The modeling suggests that average global yields would fall for corn, soybeans and canola and despite some likely “compensating” additional plantings of these three crops, there would be a net fall in global production of the three crops of 14 million tonnes.


"Global trade and consumption of these crops/derivatives would also be expected to fall. The production and consumption of other grains such as wheat, barley and sorghum and oilseeds, notably sunflower, would also be affected. Overall, net production of grains and oilseeds (and derivatives) would fall by 17.7 million tonnes and global consumption would fall by 15.4 million tonnes. The cost of consumption would also increase by $20 billion (3.6%) relative to the total cost of consumption of the (higher) biotechinclusivelevel of world consumption. The impacts identified in this analysis are, however, probably conservative, reflecting the limitations of the methodology used. In particular, the limited research conducted to date into the impact of the cost-reducing effect of biotechnology (notably in herbicidetolerant soybeans) on prices suggests that the price effects identified in this paper represent only part of the total price impact of the technology.”


Click here to review the full study.


tbo's picture

If we all support small and local farmers and have our own gardens, I think costs would eventually came down. Farmers could save seed and sell directly to consumers without having to support all the chemical companies along the way. Chemical farming is so entrenched in the USA that it will be a hard transition, but well worth it for the health of generations to come. I think god's master plan is way better than Monsanto's.

WheatLover's picture

That is a difficult question to answer because most food products are sold as a commodities item, meaning that their price reflects the supply of the food versus the demand, plus what it cost to produce the food.

Hypothetically as long as supply of the food outstripped the demand, prices will be fairly low.

I think your best solution for an answer to your question would be to look up average crop prices from the 1980s, calculate for inflation, and then compare those prices to a GM crop. I would suggest you look to corn or soybeans since those are two of the largest crops in the US.

SDfarmer's picture

WheatLover, that's not entirely correct. Our prices do NOT reflect supply and demand. Just recently it was announced that algorithim traders made $1.4 million from 'spoofing' the grain markets. It was determined that they would pay that $1.4 million to the 'people' who lost money and a $1.4 million fine. My bet is that the 'people' they refer to are other traders not the farmers who lost even more money. Our prices are based on what the hedge funds do in the markets, not supply and demand and a great example of this is the current shortage of corn and soybeans. Do you see prices going up?
Also our prices are NEVER calculated for inflation. Do look at the 1980s but look at the rest of the historical data as well. I've been farming for 40 years and at least 30 of those years had corn below $2/bushel. Our costs for inputs, on the other hand, have RARELY gone down.

WheatLover's picture

@SDfarmer- I'll admit that I can't really argue against a farmer with 40 years about his costs are or what his revenue is.
I was basing my comment on my experience in the wheat milling industry. Wheat flour is sold as a commodity product with its price reflecting what we paid for the wheat, which changes with the market. Last year there was an increase in the wheat price because the drought had such a negative impact on other crops while wheat had one of its best growing years.

GMO Free America's picture

"Between 1995 and 2011, the cost of soybeans increased 325 percent. The cost of corn rose 259 percent. And the price of genetically modified cotton jumped a stunning 516 percent.

Instead of feeding the world, Monsanto simply drove prices through the roof, taking the biggest share for itself." (http://www.westword.com/2013-07-25/restaurants/monsanto-gm-crops/full/) ( - as posted on GMO Free America on Facebook)

SDfarmer's picture

GMO Free America, you need to do better research. This started long before the mid-1990s and I can't help but wonder where your people were when all this vertical integration started in agriculture?

SDfarmer's picture

@WheatLover, yes the price of wheat went up somewhat because it was carried up by corn and soybeans. But there are so few acres planted to wheat and, though there may be a few more this year, it will continue to go down. The reason it goes down is that the price paid to the farmer is less than the price of production, which by the way never includes a living wage for the owner/operator. The majority of U.S. farmers gave up growing wheat and we used to be the world's number 1 exporter and grower.

rickspalding's picture

People think Truman was some great president. He is the one who started the national security act. That and this "terrorism" is a perfect instrument to take our rights away. Anyways, in this New Deal he also included an agriculture act for all farmers to destroy excess supplies to drive up prices. I am not that old but I can't believe people still think the gov't is for the people. It is a statist run country and as long as the people remain sheep, the gov't could care less how much the corporations abuse the system over the greater good. The federal reserve doesn't even calculate inflation properly. It if is a commodity, (WHICH EVERYTHING IS ESSENTIALLY A COMMODITY), they don't include it in their equation. What in god's earth allows a gov't to take people's money (taxes) then subsidize everything to jack up prices. All it does is make the middle class weaker. You could go buy some land and grow gmo corn and make a boatload of money off the govt. Its a freaking joke. There is a supply and demand curve for prices. First of all ethanol is a complete waste of time and money. If corn was actually used for food, and people were aware of GMO, the supply of organic corn would increase and drive prices down. DOn't say this doesn't happen. The gov't wants to, or maybe they already bought millions worth of sugar because prices got so cheap. To "help" the sugar industry. But in addition, yes the futures market is completely corrupt. I am a stock trader, not on futures but there is plenty of speculation that drives prices up or down for no good reason.

Brenna Aune's picture

Yes. Food WOULD be a lot cheaper is GMOs disappeared.

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