Dominos in the dairy: An analysis of transgenic maize in Dutch dairy farming

Isolation distances to limit the risk of cross-pollination from transgenic to nontransgenic crops can severely limit the potential use of transgenic crops through a so-called 'domino effect' where a field of non-transgenic crops limits adoption of transgenic crops not only on plots in its direct vicinity, but also in plots further away as its neighbors are forced to grow the non-transgenic varieties, forcing their neighbors to grow the non-transgenic variety, and so on. The extent to which this effect takes place, however, may depend crucially on the type of farm. For example, dairy farms can use grassland as a buffer between transgenic and conventional maize plots. This article assesses the effects of isolation distances for transgenic maize in dairy farming. A spatially explicit farm model is applied to a region in the Southern Netherlands to identify to what extent a single farmer (who uses non-transgenic maize) can limit other farmers’ potential to grow transgenic maize. The main findings are that 50% or more of the farms in the study area will not affect the potential adoption of transgenic maize by growing conventional maize at all. This result even holds under distance measures of 800m, which is the largest distance implemented by member states of the European Union. When they do have such effects, isolation distances can reduce the benefits from transgenic maize by €5,000 - €6,000, for a considerable part through a domino effect. Large net benefits of transgenic maize may limit the spatial effects as farmers are more willing to relocate maize production to areas where transgenic maize is allowed.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-04-26

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