The International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research (ICABR)



Adoption and Diffusion of rBST in California.


L.J. Bees Butler, UC Davis 
Irene Henriques, York University, Canada, UC Davis.





The problem of projecting future use patterns of agricultural biotechnology products in order to evaluate their potential for development and commercialization is a challenging proposition for economists. While many have attempted ex ante methods of projecting adoption and diffusion rates, very few have tested their ex ante results after the fact. We propose to use a continuous sample of California dairy producers to examine a wide variety of methods and models of projecting ex ante adoption and diffusion rates, and using ex post results to verify the results.

In 1987, a survey of California dairy producers was carried out to determine their attitudes and concerns about technology adoption, and particularly about rBST (recombinant Bovine Somatotropin). A sample of 152 dairy producers (about seven percent of total) was drawn from a complete list of all Grade A producers in California. The same producers have been continuously surveyed each year since 1987 (a 12 year continuous sample). In each year some farms have dropped out of the survey for a variety of reasons. Some went out of business, some could not be contacted or did not respond, and some refused to participate. In 1990 the original survey sample was increased to represent approximately 10 percent of all California dairy producers. In 1994, after extensive debate and testing, rBST was finally approved for commercial use on US dairy farms. In 1998, in addition to surveying the entire panel of dairy producers, an extensive survey was made of almost 50 percent (1,000 producers) of the California dairy industry on adoption or non-use of rBST.

The overall objective of this long-term research was to survey a continuous representative sample of California dairy producers prior to, during, and after the commercial availability of rBST to study adoption and diffusion patterns. These results are then used to verify the workability (or non-workability) of a variety of ex ante forecasting methods of adoption and diffusion of new technology and, if necessary, to propose a workable method of doing so. The large sample collected in 1998 should provide more than adequate information about the actual adoption and diffusion rate 4 years after the commercial availability of rBST.



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