Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version

April 2003


Published in Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization Vol. 4 [2006], Article 1. Copyright © 2006 The Berkeley Electronic Press. Used by permission.


The emergence of agricultural biotechnology and the subsequent introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the food system have been among the most controversial issues surrounding the increasingly scrutinized agri-food system. They have received considerable attention in the economics literature with the main focus being on the optimal regulatory response to products of biotechnology. This paper builds on the literature on the regulation of products of biotechnology by placing the analysis of labeling decisions in a multi-country context. Specifically, the objective of this study is to examine the effect of the strategic interdependence between countries on their regulatory responses to products of biotechnology. The paper analyzes the strategic effects of national regulatory decisions on labeling of GM products and identifies the determinants of the non-cooperative Nash equilibrium labeling regimes in a small number of producing countries that supply the world market of an agricultural product. Analytical results show that the Nash equilibrium configuration of labeling regimes in countries that have adopted the GM technology depends on (i) the distribution of consumer preferences and the level of consumer aversion to GM products; (ii) the size of the segregation and labeling costs in these countries; (iii) the relative productive efficiency and the cost effectiveness of the GM technology; (iv) the market power of the life science companies; and (v) the strength of intellectual property rights in these countries.