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Transgenic Res. 2011 Dec;20(6):1227-34. doi: 10.1007/s11248-011-9486-x. Epub 2011 Jan 30.

Government regulation and public opposition create high additional costs for field trials with GM crops in Switzerland.

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ETH Zurich, Center for Comparative and International Studies and Institute for Environmental Decisions, Haldeneggsteig 4, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland.


Field trials with GM crops are not only plant science experiments. They are also social experiments concerning the implications of government imposed regulatory constraints and public opposition for scientific activity. We assess these implications by estimating additional costs due to government regulation and public opposition in a recent set of field trials in Switzerland. We find that for every Euro spent on research, an additional 78 cents were spent on security, an additional 31 cents on biosafety, and an additional 17 cents on government regulatory supervision. Hence the total additional spending due to government regulation and public opposition was around 1.26 Euros for every Euro spent on the research per se. These estimates are conservative; they do not include additional costs that are hard to monetize (e.g. stakeholder information and dialogue activities, involvement of various government agencies). We conclude that further field experiments with GM crops in Switzerland are unlikely unless protected sites are set up to reduce these additional costs.

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