The most tangible outcome of a breeding program of any type is increased yield; however, breeding for biotic stresses (maintenance breeding) generally results in pathogen resistance, which can be viewed as mitigating potential crop losses. Economists tend to undervalue the opportunity cost of this type of agricultural research. This study estimates the loss (volume and revenue) in rice production in the Mid-South attributed to the presence of sheath blight, a common fungus in the US. We then ask the counterfactual question: what would the implications be if sheath blight was not present in US rice production. To do this we estimated the additional rice supply from sheath blight resistance and entered it into the RiceFlow model. The RiceFlow model generates global estimates of changes in rice price given an increase supply, as well as changes in consumer and producer welfare. Finally, the counterfactual increased yield and decreased fungicide usage from the absence of sheath blight were analyzed in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) model to assess the environmental impact that would have resulted if sheath blight was not present. These results provide insight on how potential genetic resistance to sheath blight could affect producer livelihoods, food security, and environmental sustainability.


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