Consumer perception of food products involving genetic modification: Results from a qualitative study in four Nordic countries

Klaus Grunert, Liisa Lähteenmäki, Niels Nielsen, Jacob Poulsen, Oydis Ueland, Annika Åström

Research output: Book/ReportReport

Abstract

1. The present study addresses consumer acceptance of food products involving the use of different applications of genetic modification in four Nordic countries. Three food products were used as examples: hard cheese, hard candy, and salmon. Three types of applications of genetic modification were investigated: modification of the raw material, use of genetic modification in enzyme production, and direct use of genetically modified microorganisms. In addition, three levels of presence of the genetically modified material in the final product were investigated: not present, present, and present and living/able to function.

2. The results from consumer samples in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden are remarkably similar, showing a strong stability in consumer reactions to the use of genetic modification in food production in these four countries.

3. Consumer perception is characterised by a basic dichotomy of GM and non-GM products. Being non-GM is regarded as a major benefit in itself. When a product involves genetic modification, this elicits numerous negative assocations, of which the strongest ones are ‘unhealthy’ and ‘uncertainty.’

4. The level of presence of the genetically modified material in the final product has a clear impact on consumer acceptance. When the GM material is present and viable/able to function, acceptance is lowest.

5. The type of application of genetic modification has an impact on consumer acceptance as well, but it differs across products. Still, there is a clear tendency that acceptance of salmon products where the salmon itself was genetically modified was lowest among all products tested.

6. The consumer benefits which the application of GM brings about (e.g., improved taste, functional benefits, environmental benefits) are largely perceived, but cannot overcompensate for the negative associations to GM. In some cases, a supposed benefit (e.g., faster growth of salmon, leading to reduced energy costs) was actually perceived as a disadvantage. Benefits combining personal tangible benefits with societal relevance (e.g., a low calorie candy which can be consumed by people suffering from diabetes) may have most positive impact on consumer acceptance.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAarhus
PublisherAarhus Universitet
Number of pages105
Publication statusPublished - 2000
MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study

Publication series

SeriesMAPP Working paper
Volume72
ISSN0907-2101

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