Pasquale L. Scandizzo and Sara Savastano
University of Rome “Tor Vergata”

The article aims at modelling adoption and diffusion decisions of farmers towards genetically modified crops under a real option framework. Modern GM crops help farmers to resolve two main sources of uncertainty: output uncertainty and input uncertainty. Those crops represent a revolutionary form of farming compared to the technology adoption studied in the literature in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. The article develops a theoretical model of adoption and diffusion of new GM crops under uncertainty and irreversibility. We test our theoretical predictions using data from 2000 to 2008 of a panel dataset constructed for 13 US states involved in the production of four different GM crops. These conclusions may appear to contradict the general perception of a delayed penetration for the GM crops, whose success seems to be retarded by lack of information, mistrust, and an exaggerated perception of risks. GM crops tend to be invasive, in that their short-term profitability is so high as compared with the investment needed, that once the hump of uncertainty is overcome, they operate a veritable takeover of agriculture.

Key words: Adoption, diffusion, uncertainty, irreversibility, real option.