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Over the years agricultural technology has created remarkable commodity production growth rates and enhanced general economic growth through food production, manufactured goods and trade for most nations. Biotechnology holds the promise of continuing this remarkable record. There is a long list of potential benefits of biotechnology but unfortunately the perceived costs/risks are also many. These concerns have lead to significant consumer reluctance to accept the technology and, in some cases, outright consumer rejection of the technology. To discuss the future of biotechnology, scenario analysis is used to examine the social and economic impact of biotechnology on industrialized and emerging nations. Four scenarios are discussed in detail: biotechnology may be formally or informally banned (Scenario 1), fully accepted (Scenario 2), marketed through strict labeling (Scenario 3), or limited to non-food applications (Scenario 4). Consumer acceptance of this technology will be key to determining which scenario becomes the future for each nation. The likelihood of each scenario is different for each nation, the U.S. will most likely evolve into scenario 2 or 3, while in the EU scenarios 1 or 4 are more likely. Determining the future for emerging nations is extremely complex and dependent on several factors like malnutrition rates, environmental safety and historical trading routes. Each scenario has a major impact on small producers worldwide which ultimately influences the health of rural communities. The analysis indicates that emerging nations are the most sensitive to the timing of decisions being made about the future of biotechnology. If biotechnology becomes a reality, new data will be required to assess the social and economic impact of this technology.


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