Research Report

Factors Influencing Stakeholders’ Behavioral Intention toward Bt Rice in Iran  

Ghoochani O.M.1 , Ghanian  M.1 , Baradaran M.1 , Azadi H.2,3,4
1 Department of Agricultural Extension and Education, Ramin Agriculture and Natural Resources University of Khuzestan, Ahvaz, Iran
2 Department of Centre for Environmental Sciences, Hasselt University, Belgium
3 Department of Economics and Rural Development, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech (ULg), Belgium
4 Department of Geography, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
Author    Correspondence author
GMO Biosafety Research, 2015, Vol. 6, No. 3   doi: 10.5376/gmo.2015.06.0003
Received: 24 Sep., 2015    Accepted: 27 Dec., 2015    Published: 19 Jan., 2016
© 2015 BioPublisher Publishing Platform
This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Ghoochani O.M., Ghanian M., Baradaran M., and Azadi H., 2016, Factors Influencing Stakeholders’ Behavioral Intention toward Bt Rice in Iran, Genomics and Applied Biology, Vol.6, No.03 1-7 (doi: 10.5376/gmo.2015.06.0003)


Every innovation, especially in the field of food, requires comprehensive risk assessment by stakeholders prior to their acceptance. This survey study aimed to explore the behavioral intentions of stakeholders towards Bt rice in Southwest Iran. The study consisted of two main groups of stakeholders including practitioners (from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and Department of Environment) and academics (from the Chamran, Ramin, and Jondishapoor universities) who were selected through proportional random sampling method. Data were collected through a researcher-made questionnaire comprising six perceptional indicators including ‘trust in individuals and agencies’, ‘perception of benefits’, ‘perception of risks’, ‘ethics’, ‘attitude’ and ‘behavioral intention toward Bt rice’. Results revealed that there is a positive association between “perception of benefits”, “trust to individual and agencies”, “attitude” and “behavioral intention of the respondents”. The result of regression further showed that “attitude” and “perception of benefits” can explain the behavioral intention of the stakeholders towards Bt rice. The study concludes that if stakeholders find more advantages for Bt rice than disadvantages, they will be more optimistic about using it, and therefore more willing to work with it.

Food policy; Food innovation; Bt rice; Biotechnology; Multi stakeholders

1 Introduction
Agriculture, as the main accountable sector for food and feed, has presently become more important than ever (Chopra and Kamma, 2005; Ghanian et al., 2015). With regards to problems such as loss of arable lands and the prevalence of unfavorable environmental conditions (e.g. drought, salinity, floods, diseases, etc.), maintaining the amount of food per capita will be a mounting job in the future. The major cereals (i.e. oats, maize, wheat, barley, rice, sorghum, millets, and rye) provide 56% of food calories and 50% of the protein consumed on earth. Therefore, the demand for cereals will likely to be two-fold by 2050, so as to meet the requirements of the increased population (Bakshi and Dewan, 2013). Among cereals, rice is an important source of food for over 3 billion inhabitants on the earth, providing 21% of calories for the global population. After the Green Revolution, the world is recently experiencing the second agricultural revolution; i.e., the “Gene Revolution” (Azadi et al., 2015). Modern biotechnology is the main investment of this recent revolution (Mancini, 2006) and is understood as the application of scientific techniques to modify and improve plants, animals, and micro-organisms to enhance their value (Wieczorek, 2003). This technology in the belief of some such as (Latifah et al., 2011), (Amin et al., 2006), (Amin et al., 2005) and (Arantes-Oliveira, 2007) has been identified as a core technology which can accelerate a country’s transformation into a highly industrialized nation by 2020. Agricultural biotechnology holds a great promise for increasing the world’s food supply and improving the quality of food and can help solve the global food crisis and significantly lessen the world hunger (Azadi et al., 2015; Lipton, 2001).

In Iran, with a population of over 74.7 million, 563 thousand hectares of arable land is devoted to the rice cultivation (IRRI, 2013). In Iran, rice consumption estimated at 491 million tons in 1960 while it has reached 3,500 million tons in 2012, with production increasing from 472 million tons to 1,550 million tons in the same period (Index Mundi, 2013). Rice's production is faced with serious problems such as insect pests and fungal diseases. The most important insect pests of rice are stem borer. Currently, in the country for planting of rice used 30 kilograms Diazinon per hectare. This poison due to its solubility in the water will contaminate the groundwater. Due to pests, 10 percent of rice production is lost every year.

In order to deal with these pests Ghareyazi et al., in 2006 were able to produce GM rice of Tarom Mowla'ii called «Bt Rice». Once Iranian researchers announced that GM rice is resistant to insects and is ready enough to be adopted by farmers (ISAAA, 2005), none of the Muslim and the Middle East countries did not declared their readiness to deliver GM crops to the market; however, due to governmental skepticism, the seed of this rice was retracted from the market (Ghasemi et al., 2013). GM crops, including the Bt rice, are currently a hot topic in both academic and political circles because of their implications for food security, economic growth and income distribution, human health, environmental impacts, and potential for agricultural trade (Azadi and Ho, 2010).

Every innovation, especially in the field of food and societal health, requires comprehensive assessment by decision makers prior to their acceptance. Different groups and organizations have authority in the food and health population sector. Thus, understanding and awareness of stakeholder views and opinions may assist in planning and management of the Bt rice development. It is therefore of great importance to identify which factors will exert influence upon the behavioral intention of stakeholders towards applying gene technology to food production. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore the behavioral intentions of stakeholders towards Bt rice in Southwest Iran.

2 Research Method
The study was designed as a correlational survey. The study consisted of two main groups of stakeholders: practitioners (Agricultural experts of agronomy and plant breeding and extension of the agricultural ministry, experts of monitoring management on the food and beverage of Food and Drug Administration and experts of research center of department of environment) and academics (Faculty members of plant breeding and plant pathology of Chamran and Ramin Universities, faculty members of the feed science at the Jondishapoor University, faculty members of the agricultural research center at Ahvaz City) (N = 150). Using Krejcie & Morgan’s (1970) table, 108 participants were selected using random sampling with the proportional allocation method. Data were collected through a researcher-made questionnaire comprising six perceptional indicators including ‘trust in individuals and agencies,’ ‘perception of benefits’, ‘perception of risks’, ‘ethics’, ‘attitude’ and ‘behavioral intention toward Bt rice’. The summation of the answers to all the questions for each variable was computed as the total score of that variable. The face validity and reliability of the questionnaire were confirmed respectively by a panel of faculty members of the Ramin University and Cronbach’s alpha coefficients which were higher than acceptable rates for all the scales used in the study. Data were analyzed using SPSS (V20).

3 Results
According to the results, the majority of respondents (62%) were less than 40 years old, male (68.5%), and about one-third of the respondents (30.6%) held bachelor’s degrees, one-third (35.2%) held master’s degrees, and one-third (31.5%) held PhD.

In order to explore the association between the behavioral intention of stakeholders towards working by Bt rice and perception of benefits and risks, trust to individual and agencies, ethical concerns, and attitude Pearson correlation coefficients were estimated (Table 1).


Table 1 Association between constructs of research (Pearson correlation)

A multiple regression analysis was conducted to evaluate how well measures of perception of benefits, trust to individual and agencies and attitudes predicted behavioral intention towards working by Bt rice. The stepwise method was chosen because it enters the predictor variables into the equation model until the addition of further variables produce no significant improvement in multiple correlation coefficient.

Table 2 shows the results of the regression analysis. To predict the goodness of fit of the regression model, the multiple correlation coefficient (R), coefficient of determination (R2) and F ratio were examined. The linear combination of the two constructs was significantly related to the behavioral intention of stakeholders towards working by Bt rice, R2 = 0.30, F = 23.07, p= 0.0001. Only two out of three predictor constructs, namely perception of benefits and attitudes entered to the equation. The other one constructs (i.e. trust to individual and agencies) did not enter the multiple regression equation because they did not contribute to the multiple correlation co-efficient. The multiple correlation co-efficient was 0.55, indicating that approximately 0.30 per cent of the variance (R2) in the behavioral intention of stakeholders towards working by Bt rice can be explained by the two predictor constructs taken together. In the regression analysis, the beta coefficients or standardized coefficient can be used to explain the relative importance of the two predictor constructs in contributing to the variance in the support of behavioral intention of stakeholders towards working by Bt rice. Looking at the standardized beta weights, it can be seen that attitudes (Beta = 0.29, p = 0.0001) carried the heaviest weight followed by perception of benefits (Beta = 0.20, p = 0.0001). The other one predictor construct (trust to individual and agencies) which was excluded from the model, appear not to be statistically significant in affecting behavioral intention of stakeholders towards working by Bt rice.


Table 2 Multiple regression analysis of behavioral intention of stakeholders towards working by Bt rice

4 Conclusion
In Iran, GM technology is an innovation and stakeholders can influence on acceptance/rejection of these crops, before determining by consumers. In this regard, recognition of their behavioral intention and its affecting factors is imperative. The results revealed that there are significant and positive association between perceptions of benefits, trust to individual and agencies and attitudes with behavioral intention of stakeholders towards working by Bt rice. The results of multiple regression analysis showed that two constructs of attitudes and perception of benefits are predictors of behavioral intention of stakeholders towards working by Bt rice. It shows the stakeholders of GM crops in Iran are open-minded about it.

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