This study is ongoing so the `impact` is not yet apparent. By understanding the economics of fear we can identify the best targets for attack as those being identified with the greatest welfare loss to society. By understanding how consumers respond to risk we are advising on means of communication and resources required for recovery. Importantly we are coming to an understanding of the nature between the psychology of risk and food consumption choices;By understanding the spatial distribution of impact from a foot and mouth disease we can identify economic loss, resource allocations, and the value of public intervention.
We are still analyzing data from experiments conducted in 2007. We have shown that even the threat of food contamination will lead consumers to reduce consumption, even if they do not realize it.
impact statement issue
This project was initiated while I was at Rutgers University and was prompted by the events of September 11, 2001 and the fear of biological/chemical and other weapons of mass destruction believed to be held by terrorist organization. Initial research at the Food Policy Institute was at the request of the NJ Secretary of Agriculture. Funding ($2 million, shared with Rutgers) was provided by the USDA.
impact statement response
In 2008 we advanced our research on several fronts. First we have completed the spatial modeling of biosecurity risks using foot and mouth disease as an example; We ran real life food experiments with 170 students to examine a number of theoretical games and also to determine the psychology of consumption using Avian Influenza; Third we are using the results from four surveys conducted between 2004 and 2006 on mad cow, terrorism, spinach, and avian influenza to determine patters of risk perception in consumption choices.
impact statement summary
This research investigates the economics of fear and the impact of agroterrorism and biosecurity on the U.S. agricultural economy. There are three areas of emphasis. First, the economic impacts are postulated in theory as a symptom of what we term "consumer hysteresis", meaning that after a biosecurity event there is a time frame under which consumers or production will return to normal conditions. Second, we are investigating the impacts of diseases on U.S. trade. These include model simulations of foot and mouth disease and avian influenza. Third, we are studying the psychology of fear using measures of risk perception, risk communication, and political communication.