Perspectives of gatekeepers in the Kenyan food industry towards genetically modified food
Attitudes and perceptions of stakeholders are crucial in the acceptability of GM foods. Past research focussed on consumers, but paid little attention to the food industry and its gatekeepers, especially in Africa. Therefore, a survey was conducted covering 39 respondents from the milling industry and supermarkets, the main processors and distributors of maize products, in seven urban centres of Kenya. Respondents, mostly from senior management, were well educated and had a good knowledge of biotechnology. Their major sources of information were the media for the supermarkets, and brochures and the food industry for the milling companies. Respondents generally appreciated the benefits of biotechnology, but had concerns about the environment, although few people considered GM food harmful to human or animal health. Most respondents found traceability of GM products important, but would prefer not to label them because of the costs and possible negative consumer reactions. Respondents were largely non-committal on the use of GM products in their companies, preferring to decide on a case-by-case basis. The few negative responses, mostly from the milling industry, were affected by high risk and low benefit perceptions. Most respondents do not like the idea of labelling GM food. Better communication between research and the food industry is now needed, and more research on the labelling of GM products.
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