This study provides an overview of the economic costs, benefits, and risks involved with agricultural biotechnology at the farm level, at the market level, and for the farm and food system as a whole. Both advantages and disadvantages of agricultural biotechnology are discussed. Among the drivers of U.S. domestic and international consumer demand for transgenic crop products discussed are environmental and food safety concerns. A comparison is made between a "science-based" regulatory framework and a policy based on the precautionary principle. The authors argue that open dialogue is needed for achieving improved public understanding of agricultural biotechnology, and that analyses need to go beyond discussing the scientific merits of biotechnology, to include social scientists, as well as the public at large.