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Attitudes towards the use of GMOs in food production and their impact on buying intention: The role of positive sensory experience

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Abstract

European consumers are skeptical towards genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food production, and their willingness to buy such products is low. Previous research also shows that these attitudes are quite resistant to attempts to change them by giving additional information. The aim of the study was to investigate if positive sensory experience with a (purportedly) GMO-based food product would influence consumers' attitude towards the use of GMOs in food production. An experiment was conducted in which subjects in the experimental group tasted cheeses, one of which was labeled as “produced using GMOs.” The cheeses were selected in a way that ensured that the subject had a sensory preference for the GMO cheese. A control group tasted cheeses that were unlabelled. After the tasting, subjects completed a conjoint analysis task about cheese, in which the type of starter culture used (GMO|conventional) was one of the attributes. Subjects also were administered a set of items measuring attitude towards the use of GMOs in food production. Results showed that for subjects in the experimental group (who believed that they had tasted a GMO cheese, with which they had a positive sensory experience) (1) attitude towards GMO in food production was less negative, and (2) type of starter culture used (GM|conventional) had less impact on their buying intentions with regard to cheese than for subjects in the control group. [EconLit citations: L660, M310, Q130]. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Agribusiness 20: 95-107, 2004.

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