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What are the top organizations that profit from GMOs?

Submitted by: Cody Arnsby


Expert response from Dr. Stuart Smyth

Assistant Professor, Department of Bioresource Policy, Business and Economics, University of Saskatchewan

Monday, 04/30/2018 15:08

The top organizations that benefit from GMOs are the producer organizations and ultimately the farmers themselves. When famers grow any crop, regardless of whether it is GM or not, they pay a small fee, known as a ‘check-off’ that goes to fund further research into the development of new crop varieties. Each commodity has a check-off fee specific to that commodity and the check-off fees are not necessarily the same for each commodity.

For example, in the production of canola in Canada it is C$1 per tonne. In 1996, the first year of GM canola, the check-off fee would have generated about C$5 million that would have been available to be reinvested back into research for new varieties. In 2017, the check-off fee generated just over C$21 million. An increase of C$16 million in funding for new crop research is a tremendous benefit for the canola farmer organizations, as organizations like this have Boards of Directors that make the decisions on where and how to reinvest these check-off revenues. Were it not for the improved yields from GM canola, research funding available for the development of new varieties would be 75 percent lower than presently is the case.

As a comparison, wheat (which is a non-GM crop) check-offs have decreased by C$8 million per year between 1996 and 2017, dropping from C$30 million to C$22 million.

The use of check-off fees is a very beneficial cyclical process. Farmers pay this small fee, which is then invested in the research and development of new canola varieties, which provides improved canola varieties for farmers to produce. Due to the increased acres of GM crops and the higher production, by far the most profitable organizations have been the commodity producer organizations that have considerably higher revenues to invest into additional research, which certainly benefits the farmers, but also benefits the environment through reduced impacts and ultimately benefits us as consumers through lower food prices.