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Farmer preferences for milpa diversity and genetically modified maize in Mexico: a latent class approach

  • BIROL, EKIN
  • VILLALBA, ERIC RAYN
  • SMALE, MELINDA

"Maize, the second most globally important staple crop after wheat, originated in Mexico, where it is typically grown as part of a set of associated crops and practices called the milpa system. This ancient mode of production is practiced today in ways that vary by cultural context and agro-environment. Milpas generate private economic value, in terms of food security, diet quality and livelihoods, for the two-million farm households who manage them. Furthermore, milpas generate public economic value by conserving agrobiodiversity, especially that of maize landraces, which have the potential to contribute unique traits needed by plant breeders for future crop improvement. In this way, milpas contribute to global food security in maize. However, the sustainability of the milpa system has been threatened by off-farm employment opportunities, long-distance migration, the increasing commercialization and intensification of maize production. Most recently, the milpa system has been negatively impacted by the contamination of maize landraces by genetically modified (GM) maize, cultivation of which is currently prohibited in Mexico. Here, we employ a choice experiment to estimate Mexican farmers' valuation of three components of agrobiodiversity (crop species richness, maize variety richness and maize landraces), and examine their interest in cultivating GM maize. Choice experiment data, household level social, economic and demographic data, community level economic development data, and information on milpa production characteristics, and farmers' attitudes and perceptions with regards to GM food and crops were collected from 420 farm households across 17 communities in three states of Mexico. Using these data, we analyzed the heterogeneity of farmer preferences using a latent class model, which can be used to simultaneously identify sample segments having homogenous preferences for milpa attributes, as well as farmer characteristics affecting preferences. We furthe

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal Environment and Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 14 (2009)
Issue (Month): 04 (August)
Pages: 521-540

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Handle: RePEc:cup:endeec:v:14:y:2009:i:04:p:521-540_00
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  1. Bellon, Mauricio R., 2004. "Conceptualizing Interventions to Support On-Farm Genetic Resource Conservation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 159-172, January.
  2. Smale, Melinda & Bellon, Mauricio R & Aguirre Gomez, Jose Alfonso, 2001. "Maize Diversity, Variety Attributes, and Farmers' Choices in Southeastern Guanajuato, Mexico," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(1), pages 201-25, October.
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  7. J. Edward Taylor & Antonio Yunez-Naude & George Dyer, 1999. "Agricultural Price Policy, Employment, and Migration in a Diversified Rural Economy: A Village-Town CGE Analysis from Mexico," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(3), pages 653-662.
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  10. Wuyang Hu, 2004. "Trading off health, environmental and genetic modification attributes in food," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 31(3), pages 389-408, September.
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