Latin America

In Latin America, although many countries are conducting field trials of transgenic crops, only Mexico and Argentina are active in producing GM crops for commercial use. Argentina is the second largest producer of GM crops in the world behind the United States primarily due to its open biosafety regulations. Argentina's research capacity and funding targeted at local needs are limited (Qaim, 2002). In contrast, science and research capacities and funding in Mexico for adapting transgenic crops to local conditions are growing, experience with biosafety procedures is expanding, and seed markets are large enough to attract private sector interest (Traxler et al., 2001). In addition, biotechnologies have been used to address agroecological issues in Mexico. For example, Traxler et al. studied the impact of Bt cotton in Mexico where one-third of the country's cotton area was planted with Bt cotton in 2000. Focusing on a particular region that has had serious pest problems, they estimate $600/ha. of net benefit during years of pest pressure and equal profitability in years when pest populations were low. However, the growing gap between small, poor farmers and large, multinational agricultural corporations, as well as negative public perception of GM crops, continues to be significant constraints in all Latin American countries.

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