An Analysis of McLean County, Illinois Farmers' Perceptions of Genetically Modified Crops

McLean County, Illinois farmers were surveyed in order to explore and analyze their perceptions of genetically modified crops and their genetically modified cropping decisions. Questionnaires were mailed to 400 randomly selected farmers, and 156 were returned. The 134 respondents who reported that they planned to plant crops in 2003 were asked to provide information about gender, age, education, and number of tillable acres farmed. Respondents were also asked if they had previously planted genetically modified crops and if they planned to plant either genetically modified corn or genetically modified soybeans in 2003. Finally, respondents were presented with 40 statements that pertained to biotechnology and genetically modified crops, and they were asked to record their level of agreement or disagreement with each statement using a 5-point Likert scale. Factor analysis was used to construct four factors from responses to the 40 statements that pertained to biotechnology and genetically modified crops. Items that loaded into the first factor indicated that McLean county farmers perceived agricultural biotechnology to be acceptable and beneficial, and their perspectives of biotechnology were much broader than the economic impacts on their own farms. The second factor revealed that McLean County farmers' cropping decisions had been affected to some degree by events such as the StarLink corn case that had cast a negative shadow over biotechnology. The third factor reflected direct benefits of genetically modified crops to farm operations, specifically higher yields and profits. The fourth factor included increased regulation of genetically modified crops in international markets and lower prices for genetically modified crops, which were potentially negative factors in the marketing of genetically modified crops. Binary logistic regression analysis was used to classify respondents according to past and planned experiences with genetically modified crops. When weighted factor scores from the four factors were used as independent variables, 100% of farmers who had planted genetically modified crops in the past, 98.4% of farmers who planned to plant genetically modified crops in 2003, and 100% of farmers who had not discontinued planting genetically modified crops were correctly classified. On the other hand, only 62.5% of farmers who had not planted genetically modified crops in the past, 60.0% of farmers who planned to not plant genetically modified crops in 2003, and 60.0% of farmers who had discontinued planting genetically modified crops were correctly classified. When the highest loading items from each of the four factors were used as independent variables, classification of farmers who had planted genetically modified crops in the past, farmers who planned to plant genetically modified crops in 2003, and farmers who had not discontinued planting genetically modified crops were little changed. However, correct classification of farmers who had not planted genetically modified crops in the past dropped from 62.5% to 50%, correct classification of farmers who had planned to not plant genetically modified crops in 2003 dropped from 60.0% to 20.0%, and correct classification of farmers who had discontinued planting genetically modified crops dropped from 60% to 0%. Additional information about farmers' age, education, and farm size increased the explanatory power of models only modestly. Inspection of regression coefficients revealed that increases in Factor 1 scores, which were dominated by positive aspects of biotechnology from a macro perspective, were associated with increases in odds ratios for having planted genetically modified crops in the past, having planned to plant genetically modified crops in 2003, and having continued planting genetically modified crops. Alternatively, increases in Factor 2 scores, which were dominated by negative perceptions of genetically modified seeds and crops, were associated with increases in odds ratios for having planned to not plant genetically modified crops in 2003, and having discontinued planting genetically modified crops. Factor 3 scores, which were dominated by micro benefits to farmers, were associated with increases in odds ratios for having planned to plant genetically modified crops in 2003, and having continued planting genetically modified crops. Results for two individual items that were significant, namely "as a consumer, I am satisfied with the benefits of biotechnology," and "restrictions on saving GM seed affect my GM crop planting decisions," were consistent with results for weighted factor scores. Greater agreement with the former statement was associated with increases in odds ratios for having planted genetically modified crops in the past, and having planned to plant genetically modified crops in 2003. Greater agreement with the latter statement was associated with increases in odds ratios for having planned to not plant genetically modified crops in 2003 and having discontinued planting genetically modified crops.


Issue Date:
2005
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
PURL Identifier:
http://purl.umn.edu/19204
Total Pages:
25
JEL Codes:
Q16
Series Statement:
Selected Paper 137070




 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-22

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