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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, 2009. "Competition and Innovation: An Experimental Investigation," SOI - Working Papers 0608, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich, revised Apr 2007.
    2. Gersbach, Hans & Schmutzler, Armin, 2001. "A Product Market Theory of Worker Training," IZA Discussion Papers 327, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Dario Sacco & Armin Schmutzler, 2008. "Competition and Innovation: An Experimental Investigation," SOI - Working Papers 0807, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich.
    4. Dennis L. Gärtner, 2010. "Monopolistic screening under learning by doing," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 41(3), pages 574-597.
    5. Buehler Stefan & Schmutzler Armin, 2005. "Asymmetric Vertical Integration," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, pages 1-27.
    6. Polk, Andreas & Schmutzler, Armin, 2005. "Lobbying against environmental regulation vs. lobbying for loopholes," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, pages 915-931.
    7. Rainer Winkelmann, 2004. "Co-payments for prescription drugs and the demand for doctor visits - Evidence from a natural experiment," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(11), pages 1081-1089.
    8. 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.
    9. Josef Falkinger, 2008. "Between Agora and Shopping Mall," SOI - Working Papers 0805, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich.
    10. Daniel Halbheer & Sarah Niggli & Armin Schmutzler, 2006. "What Does it Take to Sell Environmental Policy? An Empirical Analysis of Referendum Data," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, pages 441-462.
    11. Stefan Buehler & Justus Haucap, 2004. "Mobile Number Portability," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, pages 223-238.

    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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