Consumer attitudes toward GM food with hypothetical functional characteristics
Since their introduction in the early 1990s, genetically modified organisms in agriculture tended to emphasize improved yield. Europeans, perceiving unacceptable risk and too little benefit, resoundingly disapproved of GMO use in agro-food processes. More recently, research has turned to developing products that use GMO components that better match consumer interest, including nutritionally enhanced foods, environmentally friendly crops, and other areas. The question that arises is whether Europeans perceive that the new, prospective benefits outweigh the olds risks, opening the market to such products. This paper investigates consumer preferences for a number of hypothetical genetic modifications in a widely consumed food product: yoghurt. We explore the issue using discrete-choice, multi-attribute, stated-preference data. Our analysis of the data shows that consumers attribute low importance to prospected benefits in judging gene technology applications. Moreover, data demonstrates that consumers dont feel that labels and certification alone offer sufficient safeguards from perceived danger. Conversely, better information through scientific research does seem to have an impact.
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