Identifying farmer attitudes towards genetically modified (GM) crops in Scotland

Consumer attitudes towards genetically modified (GM) food are well documented but there has been much less focus on farmer attitudes to GM technology in agriculture. This paper reports findings from a study investigating farmers’ attitudes to GM crops in Scotland. Results from a Q methodology study reveal three discourses, one apparently pro-GM and demonstrating an expectation of benefits, the second representing a more uncertain position, wary of the potential risks of the technology but likely to be reluctant adopters, and the third describing a group who demonstrate a somewhat fatalistic attitude towards the issue of GM technology adoption and impact. The paper also reports findings from a postal survey conducted as part of the Q methodology study. Results from a scenario question suggest that the majority of Scottish farmers are unsure at this stage whether they would choose to adopt GM technology or not, opting instead for a ‘wait and see’ position. The intention (or not) to adopt, appears to be related to a number of variables such as type of crops grown, whether or not the farmer expects to pass on the farm to the next generation of the family, and whether the farmer thinks GM crops will be good or bad for Scottish agriculture. These findings contribute to the overall GM debate by providing some insight into the differing positions held by farmers in Scotland and thereby offering an indication of the likelihood of GM crops being introduced into the Scottish landscape.

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Working Paper

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2019-08-26

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