Pharma Crops, Farmers and Rural Communities

A new report written by Iowa State Economics Professor Robert Wisner and commissioned by the Union for Concerned Scientists examines the potential benefits and risks of pharmaceutical crops for farmers and rural communities. The report website is here.

To gain support for pharma crop production at the state level and state subsidies for their industry, pharma crop proponents have touted the substantial benefits that these new crops would bring to farmers and rural America. However, these claims were never backed up by economic analyses.

To fill this gap, UCS commissioned Dr. Robert Wisner, University Professor in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University, to take a close look at the economic benefits and risks of pharma crops to growers and rural communities. Dr. Wisner, one of the nation’s leading agricultural economists, found some drug and biotechnology companies may profit from “pharma crops,” but farmers and rural communities are likely to see few if any benefits.

After careful review of Dr. Wisner’s report, UCS concludes that pharma crop proponents’ claims are inflated and, importantly, whatever benefits do materialize, most farmers will not be major beneficiaries.

I’m reading through the report summary now, and it seems to be well done.

One Reply to “Pharma Crops, Farmers and Rural Communities”

  1. This actually got some space in the Iowa farm papers–probably because Wisner was involved. The article said the expense of protecting neighboring crops from pharma cross-pollination would about balance the benefits accruing to the pharma farmer. Recently one NW Iowa pharmer planted an acre of corn 200 miles from home on an island site that was sufficiently isolated from other crops. Long ways to take his cultivator!

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