Deepesh Puthiyapurayil Changat, Vijesh Vijaya Krishna:
An Ex-ante Economic Evaluation of Nutritional Impacts of Transgenic-biofortified Potato in India


1Humboldt Unversity Berlin, Department of Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences, Germany
2University of Hohenheim, International Agricultural Trade and Food Security, Germany

Though proven correlation exists between malnutrition and income poverty, it is well recognised that economic growth alone can not form panacea for under-nourishment. To address this problem an array of approaches is adopted by the policy makers of developing countries. Biofortification of food is a relatively new development that compliments the existing instruments to ameliorate malnutrition problem. It refers to breeding staple food crops for higher nutrient content levels. Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) is a major type of macronutrient malnutrition in the developing countries, which is characterised not only by energy deficit due to reduction in all macronutrients, but also by a deficit in many micronutrients. From the perspective of welfare economics, the present study addresses the nutritional impacts of a transgenic biofortified crop -- protein rich potato or `protato'; developed by the public research sector of India. The protato, enhanced with a gene from the amaranth plant, has up to a third more protein than traditional potatoes and significantly higher levels of the essential amino acids viz. lysine and methionine. A probe into (i) the nature and extent of protein malnutrition in socioeconomic context of India (ii) the extent to which the protein rich transgenic potatoes can help ameliorate protein malnutrition, and (iii) the consumer attitude and willingness to purchase them, forms the major research objectives. The paper elaborates the research design and includes review of previous studies to examine the impact and direction of various socioeconomic factors of consumer households determining attitude towards genetically modified foods. Using the secondary data, the demand for potatoes is estimated across Indian states with varying levels of per capita income, combining rural and urban population. Methodological aspects of calculating disability adjusted life years (DALYs), employed to measure impacts of PEM are also detailed in the paper.

Keywords: Biofortification, India, Nutrition, Protato, Protein-energy malnutrition, Transgenic potato, Willingness to purchase

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Contact Address: Deepesh Puthiyapurayil Changat, Humboldt Unversity Berlin, Department of Agricultural Economics and Social SciencesLuisenstr. 56, 10099 Berlin, Germany, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, September 2006