Vernon Smith Prize 2018 – Award Ceremony

Prince Michael of Liechtenstein (left), Paul Künzle, Mateusz Urban, Sebastian Ariel Abella and Prince Philipp of Liechtenstein (right).

On February 4, the 11th Vernon Smith Prize was awarded in Vaduz, Liechtenstein. The award ceremony took place in the Hofkellerei Vaduz. In their essays, the young contenders dealt with the pros and cons of genetic engineering. The winner was the Argentine Sebastian Ariel Abella.

Students from all over the world wrote essays in the run-up to the 11th Vernon Smith Prize on “Obscured by Fake News: The Politics, Morals, and Limits of Genetic Engineering”. They focussed on the socio-political relevance, the moral importance and the limits of genetic engineering. A panel of experts examined all submitted essays and selected the three best ones. The works were judged on logic, content stringency and scientific depth. In addition, the candidates must not have exceeded the age of 30 …

The Winners of 2018

1st Price: Sebastian Ariel Abella

2nd Price: Mateusz Urban

3rd Price: Paul Künzle

The 11th International Vernon Smith Prize for the advancement of Austrian Economics was an essay competition sponsored and organized by ECAEF – European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation, Vaduz (Principality of Liechtenstein). Topic of 2018:

Obscured by Fake News:
The Politics, Morals, and Limits
of Genetic Engineering

Vernon Smith Prize 2018
Vernon Smith Prize 2018 – Call for Papers

Biotechnological procedures, including genetic modification have been employed successfully in the course of millennia for the making of vital medicines or for selective breeding to generate much of our daily foodstuff. We have used these techniques also in refining plants, in the production of alcoholic beverages, cheeses or for manufacturing garments. And yet, Biotechnology in general and especially Genetic Engineering are subject to controversy, widespread misinformation, and remain shrouded in mystery, characterized by vague apprehensions and common superstitions. Whereas in conventional breeding methods only more or less the same species can be crossed with each other, Genetic Engineering deals with the isolation, characterization, and recombination of genetic material. Although, this new development has endured the extensive rigor of scientific method, together with academic peer-review concluding empirically in support of the new science, the application and commercialization of genetic engineering innovation in the food system from a business perspective are worthy of debate and have policy considerations. For many, Genetic Engineering is a seminal achievement that can be used for life saving drugs, improvements of the environment and GMOs could even help feed the world. Others consider it an untested and dangerous intrusion into nature that needs to be regulated or even outlawed by politics.
We invite papers on this topic addressing not only the socio-political relevance and the moral implications of Genetic Engineering. But also the implications of possible regulations and even limitations of scientific research on the whole.


First Prize: €4,000


Second Prize: €3,000


Third Prize: €2,000


All entries needed to meet the following requirements:
1: Entries to be submitted by individuals of up to 30 years (in 2018).
2: Entries not to exceed 12 pgs.; 1.5 space; left/right margins no less then 1 inch; including a full bibliography and a 1/2 page summary
3: Entries to be submitted in English in electronic form (pdf) including a current CV with DoB.
4: Deadline was November 30, 2018.
5. It was mandatory that all three prizewinners participated in the award ceremony in Vaduz.