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An analysis of the Swiss vote on the use of genetically modified crops

Author

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  • Felix Schlaepfer

    () (Institute for Environmental Decision, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich)

Abstract

In November 2005, 55.7 percent of 2 million Swiss voters approved a 5-year moratorium (ban) on the commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) plants within 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 national-level voting decisions in Switzerland. Among the socioeconomic characteristics, only the age group was clearly significant with individuals above 65 years less opposed to crop biotechnology. Several political preference/ideology variables were significant determinants of the vote, most notably the preferences about the role of the state in the economy. Perceived consequences of the use of GM plants for health, natural diversity of plants and animals were also strongly and significantly associated with approving and disapproving voter groups. The disapproving votes were not motivated by perceived benefits of GM-food production but mainly by perceived interests of Swiss science and industry. Our findings 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, the analysis of the voter motives suggests that the public support for GM-free agricultural production would be even larger in other countries, where industrial interests in crop biotechnology are less pronounced.

Suggested Citation

  • Felix Schlaepfer, 2007. "An analysis of the Swiss vote on the use of genetically modified crops," SOI - Working Papers 0717, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:soz:wpaper:0717
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    File URL: http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/wp_soi/wp0717.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2007
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    Cited by:

    1. Donja Darai & Dario Sacco & Armin Schmutzler, 2010. "Competition and innovation: an experimental investigation," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 13(4), pages 439-460, December.
    2. Dennis L. Gärtner, 2010. "Monopolistic screening under learning by doing," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 41(3), pages 574-597.
    3. Falkinger, Josef, 2008. "Between Agora and Shopping Mall," IZA Discussion Papers 3524, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Dennis Gaertner, 2007. "Why Bayes Rules: A Note on Bayesian vs. Classical Inference in Regime Switching Models," SOI - Working Papers 0719, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich.
    5. Dario Sacco & Armin Schmutzler, 2008. "All-Pay Auctions with Negative Prize Externalities: Theory and Experimental Evidence," SOI - Working Papers 0806, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich.
    6. Adrian Bruhin, 2008. "Stochastic Expected Utility and Prospect Theory in a Horse Race: A Finite Mixture Approach," SOI - Working Papers 0803, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich.
    7. Sandra Hanslin, 2008. "The effect of trade openness on optimal government size under endogenous firm entry," SOI - Working Papers 0802, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Externalities; genetically modified organisms (GMO); public goods; voting;

    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • Q26 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Recreational Aspects of Natural Resources

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