Genetically engineered crops: Consumers’ acceptance and farmers’ adoption

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Lacy, Katherine
Major Professor
Wallace E. Huffman
Peter F. Orazem
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The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

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  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

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This dissertation consists of three essays broadly themed around understanding consumer acceptance and farmer’s use of genetically engineered crops. Genetic engineering (GE) has developed crops that improve food safety, such as the Innate Potato which produces low levels of acrylamide, known to be cancer-causing in humans. GE has also contributed to improved food security through yield improving crops such as herbicide tolerant crops. The first two essays of this dissertation examine consumer acceptance of the GE Innate Potato and the third essay evaluates adoption of farming practices associated with consequences from the over adopting of herbicide tolerant crops.

The first two essays use data from lab auctions to examine how injected information affects consumer’s willingness-to-pay (WTP) for GE and conventional potato products. Consumers receiving information containing positive statements about genetic engineering to improve food safety and information containing the risks of acrylamide consumption had significantly higher WTP for GE potato products. The WTP was highest when these two types of information were paired. However, the injected information did not significantly impact a consumer’s WTP for conventional potato products, even after being informed of the cancer-causing potential of acrylamide.

In the first essay I also find order of information is important when receiving both positive and negative information about GE products. Consumers had a significantly higher WTP when positive information follows negative information but not if the order is reversed. On the other hand, if neutral information precedes negative information consumers have a significantly higher WTP but not vice versa.

The third essay seeks to identify attributes of farmers that affect adoption of resistance management practices (RMPs) for coping with herbicide resistance in GE crop varieties. I find age, gender, and education significantly affect a farmer’s use of certain RMP groups. Younger farmers are more likely to use cultural intensive, mechanical intensive, and labor intensive RMPs. Male farmers and farmers with more years of formal education are more likely to use chemical and cultural RMPs. I also test for complementarity of RMP bundles and find farmers are more likely to use all RMPs simultaneously than individually.

Wed Aug 01 00:00:00 UTC 2018