Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

The economic power of the Golden Rice opposition

  • Justus Wesseler (a1) and David Zilberman (a2)

Vitamin A enriched rice (Golden Rice) is a cost-efficient solution that can substantially reduce health costs. Despite Golden Rice being available since early 2000, this rice has not been introduced in any country. Governments must perceive additional costs that overcompensate the benefits of the technology to explain the delay in approval. We develop a real option model including irreversibility and uncertainty about perceived costs and arrival of new information to explain a delay in approval. The model has been applied to the case of India. Results show the annual perceived costs have to be at least US$199 million per year approximately for the last decade to explain the delay in approval of the technology. This is an indicator of the economic power of the opposition towards Golden Rice resulting in about 1.4 million life years lost over the past decade in India.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The economic power of the Golden Rice opposition
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The economic power of the Golden Rice opposition
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The economic power of the Golden Rice opposition
      Available formats
The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution licence
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

E. Ansink and J. Wesseler (2009), ‘Quantifying type I and type II errors in decision-making under uncertainty: the case of GM crops’, Letters in Spatial and Resource Sciences 2: 6166.

A. Apel (2010), ‘The costly benefits of opposing agricultural biotechnology’, New Biotechnology 27: 635640.

K.J. Arrow and A.C. Fisher (1974), ‘Environmental preservation, uncertainty, and irreversibility’, Quarterly Journal of Economics 88: 312319.

K. Arrow , M. Cropper, G. Eads, (1996), ‘Is there a role for benefit-cost analysis in environmental, health, and safety regulation?’, Science 272: 221222.

R. Batista , N. Saibo, T. Lourenco, and M. Oliveira (2008), ‘Microarray analyses reveal that plant mutagenesis may induce more transcriptomic changes than transgene insertion’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 105: 36403645.

M. Baudo , R. Lyons, S. Powers, G. Pastori, K. Edwards, M. Holdsworth, and P. Shewry (2006), ‘Transgenesis has less impact on the transcriptome of wheat grain than conventional breeding’, Plant Biotechnology Journal 4: 369380.

A.B. Bennett , C. Chi-Ham, G. Barrows, S. Sexton, and D. Zilberman (2013), ‘Agricultural biotechnology: economics, environment, ethics, and the future’, Annual Review of Environment and Resources 38: 19.119.31.

A. Case and C. Paxson (2006), ‘Stature and status: height, ability, and labor market outcomes’, Journal of Political Economy 116: 499532.

J. Currie and R. Hyson (1999), ‘Is the impact of health shocks cushioned by socioeconomic status? The case of low birth weight’, American Economic Review 89: 245250.

A. Deaton (2003), ‘Health, inequality, and economic development’, Journal of Economic Literature 41: 113158.

G. Doblhammer and J. Vaupel (2001), ‘Lifespan depends on month of birth’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 98: 29342939.

M. Enserink (2008), ‘Tough lessons from Golden Rice’, Science 320: 468471.

Greenpeace (2012), Golden Illusion: The Broken Promises of ‘Golden’ Rice, Amsterdam: Greenpeace International.

D. Hennessy and G. Moschini (2006), ‘Regulatory actions under adjustment costs and the resolution of scientific uncertainty’, American Journal of Agricultural Economics 88: 308323.

R. Herman , B. Chassy, and W. Parrott (2009), ‘Compositional assessment of transgenic crops: an idea whose time has passed’, Trends in Biotechnology 27: 555557.

R. Herring (2007), ‘Opposition to transgenic technologies: ideology, interests and collective action frames’, Nature Review Genetics 9: 458463.

R. Herring (2010), ‘Epistemic brokerage in the bio-property narrative: contributions to explaining opposition to transgenic technologies in agriculture’, New Biotechnology 27: 614622.

R. Herring (2012), ‘State science and its discontents: why India's second transgenic crop did not follow the path of Bt cotton’, paper presented at the Weihenstephaner Socio-Economic Seminar, Center of Life and Food Sciences Weihenstephan, Technische Universität München, 13 June.

C.H. King and A.M. Bertino (2008), ‘Asymmetries of poverty: why global burden of disease valuations underestimate the burden of neglected tropical diseases’, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 2: e209.

C. Kolstad (1987), ‘Uniformity versus differentiation in regulating externalities’, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 14: 386399.

R. Paarlberg (2008), Starved for Science: How Biotechnology is Being Kept Out of Africa, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

I. Potrykus (2010a), ‘Regulation must be revolutionized’, Nature 466: 561.

I. Potrykus (2010b), ‘Lessons from the “Humanitarian Golden Rice” project: regulation prevents development of public good genetically engineered crop products’, New Biotechnology 27: 466472.

M. Qaim , A. Stein, and J.V. Meenakshi (2007), ‘Economics of biofortification’, Agricultural Economics 37(s1): 119133.

K. Ramessar , A. Peremarti, S. Gomez-Galera, S. Naqvi, M. Moralejo, P. Munoz, T. Capell, and P. Chritou (2007), ‘Biosafety and risk assessment framework for selectable marker genes in transgenic crop plants: a case of the science not supporting the politics’, Transgenic Research 16: 261280.

M. Richards , R. Hardy, D. Kuh, and M. Wadsworth (2002), ‘Birth weight, postnatal growth and cognitive function in a national UK birth cohort’, International Journal of Epidemiology 31: 342348.

P. Shewry , M. Baudo, A. Lovegrove, and S. Powers (2007), ‘Are GM and conventionally bred cereals really different?’, Trends in Food Sciences and Technology 18: 201209.

A. Stein , H. Sachdev, and M. Qaim (2008), ‘Genetic engineering for the poor: Golden Rice and public health in India’, World Development 36: 144158.

G. Tang , J. Qin, G. Dolnikoawski, R. Russell, and M. Grusak (2009), ‘Golden Rice is an effective source of vitamin A’, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 89: 11761183.

G. Tang , Y. Hu, S. Yin, Y. Wang, G. Dallal, M. Grusak, and R. Russell (2012), ‘β-Carotene in Golden Rice is as good as β-carotene in oil at providing vitamin A to children’, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 96: 658664.

H. Taylor and S. Karlin (1984), An Introduction to Stochastic Modeling, Orlando, FL: Academic Press.

H. van den Belt (2003), ‘Debating the precautionary principle: “guilty until proven innocent” or “innocent until proven guilty”?’, Plant Physiology 132: 11221126.

M. Vigani and A. Olper (2014), ‘GM-free private standards, public regulation of GM products and mass media’, Environment and Development Economics, this issue.

J. Wesseler , S. Scatasta, and E. Fall (2011), ‘Environmental benefits and costs of GM crops’, in C. Carter, G.C. Moschini, and I. Sheldon (eds), Genetically Modified Food and Global Welfare, Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing, pp. 173199.

K. West and I. Darnton-Hill (2008), ‘Vitamin A deficiency’, in R.D. Semba and M.W. Bloem (eds), Nutrition and Health in Developing Countries, Totowa, NJ: Humana Press, pp. 377433.

R. Zimmermann and M. Qaim (2004), ‘Potential health benefits of Golden Rice: a Philippine case study’, Food Policy 29: 147168.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Environment and Development Economics
  • ISSN: 1355-770X
  • EISSN: 1469-4395
  • URL: /core/journals/environment-and-development-economics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *