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Determinants of Voter Support for a Five‐Year Ban on the Cultivation of Genetically Modified Crops in Switzerland

Felix Schläpfer

Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2008, vol. 59, issue 3, 421-435

Abstract: While much effort has been devoted to estimating market premiums for non‐genetically modified (GM) food, the results of such research are largely silent about the preferences for the public good aspects, or externalities, of GM food production. For public goods, the closest substitute of private consumption decisions is voting on referenda. In November 2005, 55.7% of 2 million Swiss voters approved a five‐year moratorium (ban) on the commercial cultivation of GM plants in Switzerland. The present study examines how individual voting decisions were determined by: (i) socioeconomic characteristics; (ii) political preference/ideology; and (iii) agreement with a series of arguments in favour and against the use of GM plants in Swiss agriculture. The analysis is based on the data of the regular voter survey undertaken after the national‐level voting in Switzerland. The results suggest that current concerns about the use of genetically engineered plants in agriculture may not automatically decrease with higher levels of education/knowledge and generational change. Furthermore, analysis of voter motives suggests that public support for a ban on GM crops may be even larger in other countries, where industrial interests in crop biotechnology are less pronounced.

Date: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:bla:jageco:v:59:y:2008:i:3:p:421-435