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Contextualizing farmers’ attitudes towards genetically modified crops


  • Kazumi Kondoh


  • Raymond Jussaume



Analyses of the role of technological development in agriculture are central to an understanding of social change in agri-food systems. The objective of this paper is to contribute to the formation of a broader perspective of how farmers are positioning themselves with respect to controversial agricultural technologies through an empirical analysis of Washington State farmers’ willingness or unwillingness to try Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) technology on their farms. The use of this type of biotechnology in farming has been criticized for its potential harmful effects on natural environments and socio-cultural systems, while proponents highlight the possibilities for increasing production with minimal use of other inputs. An analysis of the extent of farmers’ expressed willingness to use GMOs provides an opportunity to better understand how their diverse thoughts about controversial agricultural technologies are shaped not only by their own experiences but also by social context. The present study does this by analyzing data from a farm survey conducted on a random sample of farmers from across Washington State. The results show that the production practices farmers utilize and the market strategies they employ may be at least as useful as farmers’ socio-economic characteristics in explaining what types of farmers appear to be more or less interested in potentially using this technology. Furthermore, the relationship between level of formal education and willingness to use GMOs is not straightforward. It may hide differences between farmers with respect to where and how they received their formal education as well as the type(s) of knowledge they gained. It is argued that future research should recognize the diversity that exists in farmers’ interests vis-á-vis particular technologies and should also explore how these interests are shaped by farmers’ past and present social networks and life experiences. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Suggested Citation

  • Kazumi Kondoh & Raymond Jussaume, 2006. "Contextualizing farmers’ attitudes towards genetically modified crops," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 23(3), pages 341-352, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:23:y:2006:i:3:p:341-352
    DOI: 10.1007/s10460-006-9004-6

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Vandenberg, Jennifer M. & Fulton, Joan R. & Dooley, Frank J. & Preckel, Paul V., 2000. "Impact of Identity Preservation of Non-GMO Crops on the Grain Market System," CAFRI: Current Agriculture, Food and Resource Issues, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society, issue 1, pages 1-8, May.
    2. Ribaudo, Marc O. & Shoemaker, Robbin A., 1995. "The Effect of Feedgrain Program Participation on Chemical Use," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(02), pages 211-220, October.
    3. Batie, Sandra S. & Ervin, David E., 2001. "Transgenic crops and the environment: missing markets and public roles," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(04), pages 435-457, October.
    4. Bradford L. Barham, 1996. "Adoption of a Politicized Technology: bST and Wisconsin Dairy Farmers," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(4), pages 1056-1063.
    5. Friedland,William H. & Barton,Amy E. & Thomas,Robert J., 1981. "Manufacturing Green Gold," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521285841.
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    Cited by:

    1. Benjamin Cohen, 2009. "The once and future georgic: agricultural practice, environmental knowledge, and the place for an ethic of experience," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 26(3), pages 153-165, September.


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