INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AS A SOURCE OF ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS: CHALLENGES AND POSSIBILITIES
MYWISH K. MAREDIA
This paper deals with conceptual and methodological issues arising in ex post environmental impact assessment of agricultural research. It presents a case study of approaches used (and not used) and challenges associated with the ex post assessment of environmental impacts of research supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The paper illustrates the difficulty of tracking the global effects of agricultural research on natural resources due to a diffused and complex set of decision variables effecting intensification and expansion of land in agriculture, primarily in developing countries. The central point in ex post impact assessment concerns costs and benefits (in terms of relevant budget constraints and time frame for decision) of in-depth empirical versus qualitative analysis. Within this context we conclude that the empirical counterfactual approach ("with" and "without" research) is not an option. As a second best alternative, it is inferred from cases and global statistics that: in specific instances the introduction of high yielding varieties did have unintended impacts on natural resources, in part due to policy distortion and in part due to unforeseen chain reactions in the ecosystems. But on net balance, increased yields attributable to international agricultural research have had positive environmental impacts in the form of net land saving.
Agricultural research, environmental impact assessment, externality, land saving, natural resource management, CGIAR, Green Revolution
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