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Farmers’ Willingness to Adopt Late Blight-Resistant Genetically Modified Potatoes

De Steur, Hans, Van Loo, Ellen J., Maes, Jasmien, Gheysen, Godelieve, Verbeke, Wim
Agronomy 2019 v.9 no.6
European Union, Solanum tuberosum, attitudes and opinions, climate, commercialization, cultivars, ethics, farmers, farms, financial economics, potatoes, socioeconomics, transgenic plants, Belgium
The commercialization of genetically modified (GM) crops remains highly contested in the European Union (EU). While research has mainly focused on public and consumer opinions, few studies have investigated farmers’ reactions towards such crops. This study aims to determine farmers’ willingness to adopt a late blight-resistant (LBR) GM potato cultivar (Bintje) in Flanders, Belgium (n = 384). The findings demonstrate that more than half (54.7%) of the farmers have the intention to adopt this GM potato if it becomes available. Farmers’ willingness to adopt is mainly influenced by ethical concerns about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) (negative) and perceived economic benefits of LBR GM potatoes (positive). Knowledge about GM technology decreases the likelihood of being indifferent, as compared to being willing to adopt or being opposed. As such, efforts to improve knowledge alone would not be considered an effective strategy to improve adoption rates among farmers. Socio-economic concerns about GMOs, environmental benefit perceptions of LBR GM potatoes, and socio-demographic and farm variables were not significant as potential determinants of farmers’ likelihood to adopt this GM potato. Our findings lend support to a potentially favorable climate to introduce this GM potato in Flanders, Belgium, an EU region where opt-out measures to restrict cultivation of approved GM crops were not taken.