National Research Council of Italy

Institute of Biosciences and BioResources

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IBBR publication #1323

Would Consumers Be Willing to Buy Woody Biomass Energy Products of Transgenic Origin?

Tsourgiannis L, Kazana V, Karasavvoglou A, Vettori C, Fladung M, Sijacic-Nikolic M, Ionita L

In: "EU Crisis and the Role of the Periphery". Series Contributions to Economics pp 189-202 189-202. (2015)
doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-10133-0_11

Forest wood biomass can address multiple energy needs in the form of firewood, chips, charcoal, briquettes and pellets, as well as feedstock needs for the biofuels industry in renewable ways. Short rotation coppiced hardwoods mainly of poplars, willows and sycamores have been recognized as the most promising for energy production, but for industrial applications they need to have their productivity rates increased. Transgenic trees improved in terms of growth rates, site adaptability and stress tolerance can be used in this direction to achieve faster results than other available approaches, such as silvicultural methods or traditional breeding techniques. However, transgenic trees need to undergo through a very strict regulatory process, which involves biosafety and risk assessment controls prior to commercialization. The very strict regulatory framework of transgenic plants reflects mainly the public concerns regarding their impacts on public health and the environment.This paper discusses the main market considerations in terms of the regulation processes and public acceptance for woody biomass energy products of transgenic origin. Also, it presents results of a study from Greece, initiated in the frame of the EU COST Action FP0905 with the aim to explore consumers’ attitudes towards the woody biomass energy products of transgenic origin. Field interviews based on a structured questionnaire were conducted on a random sample of 418 consumers all over the country. Multivariate statistical analysis was performed then on 220 consumers, the ones who stated that they would buy such woody biomass energy products. Principal Components Analysis indicated that the main factors affecting consumers’ purchasing behaviour towards those products were marketing issues, product quality features and health safety issues. Through cluster techniques, three groups of consumers with similar consumption behaviour were identified: (a) opportunists, (b) consumers interested in health protection issues and (c) consumers influenced by marketing issues. Discriminant Analysis was performed to predict cluster membership and a nonparametric test to profile each consumer group according to personal characteristics and attitude towards the establishment of transgenic forest plantations.

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