Date of Graduation

12-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Advisor

L. Lanier Nalley

Committee Member

Bruce Dixon

Second Committee Member

Wim Verbeke

Third Committee Member

Rodolfo Nayga, Jr.

Keywords

Cisgenic, GMO's, Marketing, Policy, Rice, Willingness-to-pay (WTP)

Abstract

The enhancement of existing plant breeding techniques, such as cisgenesis, allows plant breeders to enhance an existing cultivar quicker and with little to no genetic drag. Cisgenesis is the genetic modification of a recipient plant with natural gene(s) from a sexually compatible plant. Unlike transgenesis, which is the genetic modification of a recipient plant with gene(s) from any non‐plant organism, or from a donor plant that is sexually incompatible with the recipient plant, the results of cisgenesis could occur naturally over time. Currently, both cisgenic and transgenic products are classified as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and are labeled as such in countries which require mandatory GMO labeling. Critics claim that cisgenic products should be exempt from the GMO legislation and therefore no mandatory labeling should apply for cisgenic products. This study analyzes European consumers' attitudes towards a cisgenic product, rice, and estimates consumers' willingness-to-pay (WTP) for rice labeled as GM, as cisgenic, as with environmental benefits or as any combination of these attributes. The data were collected from 3,002 respondents through an online survey administrated in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom in 2013. Censored regression models were used to estimate consumers' WTP in each country. The results highlight significant differences across countries in terms of attitudes towards and between cisgenic and transgenic rice, WTP and demographics affecting the WTP. In all the five studied countries, consumers are willing-to-pay a premium to avoid consuming rice labeled as GM. In all the studied countries except Spain, consumers have a significantly different and lower WTP to avoid to consume rice labeled as cisgenic compared to rice labeled as GM. In addition, consumers in Spain and in France are willing-to-pay a premium for rice labeled as having environmental benefits compared to conventional rice. Finally, the results suggest that consumers differentiate cisgenic and transgenic products and that they tend to have a more positive attitude towards cisgenic rice than transgenic rice. This seems to indicate that not all GMOs are the same in consumers' eyes and thus, can have important policy implications in terms of labeling and importation of cisgenic products.

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