A recent study has revealed that the cost of developing GM potato varieties is in fact not that much more than for conventionally-bred varieties.
The study, published in the International Journal of Biotechnology, demystifies the belief that releasing a GM crop costs tens, if not hundreds, of millions of U.S. dollars. The study assessed the cost and time of developing a GM late blight resistant (LBr) potato variety for deregulation and release as a public good, in a specific developing country.
Two independently not-for-profit assessed projects have estimated that to deliver one LBr variety to resource-poor farmers in a developing country, it would cost between US$1.3-1.5 million, within a period of eight to nine years. Such costs are not far from a conventionally-bred variety. Publicly funded institutions have been deterred from developing biotech crops because of the cost implications attached to the process of developing and releasing a GM variety. These findings therefore suggest that public institutions in developing countries can make a significant contribution to crop improvement through genetic engineering.