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The Social Cost of GMOs

Ecological economists such as Herman Daly write that the more full the world becomes, the higher are the social or external costs of production. Social or external costs are costs of production that are not captured in the price of the products. For example, dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico that result from chemicals used in agriculture are not included as costs in agricultural production. The price of food does not include the damage to the Gulf. Food production is a source of large social costs. Indeed, it seems that the more food producers are able to lower the measured cost of food production, the higher the social costs imposed on society. Consider the factory farming of animals. The density of operations results in a concentration of germs and in animals being fed antibiotics. Lowering the cost of food in this way contributes to the rise of antibiotic resistant superbugs that will impose costs on society that will more than offset the savings from lower food prices. M

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