With the possible exception of nuclear technology, few scientific breakthroughs have generated the level of emotive debate that has surrounded the roll-out of agricultural biotechnology. Initial discussion about the environmental impacts of agricultural genetic modification, are now frequently juxtaposed with counter-claims that the technologies could actually be part of a wider global environmental solution in relation to climate change mitigation and food shortages. This study tests whether there are any consistent messages on why some countries seem to be advancing adoption of the technology, while others are not. We consider the range of claims in existing literature on adoption tendencies and then use structural equation modelling to test and estimate these a priori determinants of GM adoption. We found that being an exporter of maize and soybeans, agricultural area, participation in the Responsible Care Program of the Chemical Manufacturer's Association, having the EU and/or Japan as main trading partners, and participation in international environmental agreements, significantly influence decisions about whether or not to adopt GM crops at the country-level. In addition, there are two variables that are indirectly related to adoption decisions at country-level, namely technological readiness and government effectiveness.