Irreversible costs and benefits of transgenic crops: what are they?


  • M. Demont
  • J. Wesseler
  • E. Tollens


The decision of whether to release transgenic crops in the EU is one subject to flexibility, uncertainty and irreversibility. We analyse the case of herbicide-tolerant sugar beet and estimate the maximum irreversible environmental cost that can be tolerated for this technology from a benefit–cost perspective. Among Member States, these costs range from an annual € 50 to € 212 per hectare planted to transgenic sugar beet, i.e. in the range of 27-80% of the reversible benefits. It is questionable whether the environmental cost of herbicide-tolerant sugar beet would exceed this threshold