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Public attitudes towards genetically-modified food

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Kjetil Aune


British Food Journal ; Volume 107. p. 246–262. 2005

Miles, Susan; Ueland, Øydis; Frewer, Lynn J.

Purpose – This study aimed to investigate the impact of information about traceability and new detection methods for identifying genetically-modified organisms in food, on consumer attitudes towards genetically-modified food and consumer trust in regulators in Italy, Norway and England. It further aimed to investigate public preferences for labelling of genetically-modified foods in these three countries. Design/methodology/approach – A questionnaire was designed to investigate public attitudes toward genetically-modified food and trust in different information sources. Participants were recruited in Italy, Norway and England for this study. A between subjects design was used, where each participant was randomly allocated to either the experimental «information condition», or the control «no information condition». Findings – Receiving information about new detection methods and traceability did not directly influence consumer attitudes towards genetically-modified foods or trust in regulators. However, response to the development of an effective system of traceability for genetically-modified food and ingredients throughout the food chain was positive. People’s preferences for labelling of genetically-modified food were «process-based», in that there was a desire for all food produced using genetic modification or containing genetically-modified ingredients to be labelled. Originality/value – An open and transparent system of labelling regarding genetically-modified foods and ingredients, coupled with effective traceability mechanisms, is likely to provide the best basis for consumer choice regarding the consumption of genetically-modified foods. This information will be useful for both national and international regulators, and the various sectors of the food industry. The study provides useful information about likely public reaction to new EU labelling and traceability regulations.

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