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Probability functions to build composite indicators: a methodology to measure environmental impacts of genetically modified crops

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Francisco ArealORCiD


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There is an on-going debate on the environmental effects of genetically modified crops to which this paper aims to contribute. First, data on environmental impacts of genetically modified (GM) and conventional crops are collected from peer-reviewed journals, and secondly an analysis is conducted in order to examine which crop type is less harmful for the environment. Published data on environmental impacts are measured using an array of indicators, and their analysis requires their normalisation and aggregation. Taking advantage of composite indicators literature, this paper builds composite indicators to measure the impact of GM and conventional crops in three dimensions: (1) non-target key species richness, (2) pesticide use, and (3) aggregated environmental impact. The comparison between the three composite indicators for both crop types allows us to establish not only a ranking to elucidate which crop is more convenient for the environment but the probability that one crop type outperforms the other from an environmental perspective. Results show that GM crops tend to cause lower environmental impacts than conventional crops for the analysed indicators

Publication metadata

Author(s): Areal FJ, Riesgo L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Ecological Indicators

Year: 2015

Volume: 52

Pages: 498-516

Print publication date: 01/05/2015

Online publication date: 23/01/2015

Acceptance date: 04/01/2015

ISSN (print): 1470-160X

ISSN (electronic): 1872-7034

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.01.008


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