Product descriptions of cheese, candy and salmon products were presented to samples of respondents in four Nordic countries. The descriptions represented various applications of genetic modification (GM), varied along a ‘distance’ dimension and a ‘what is modified’ dimension, and were presented along with a conventionally produced product. Respondents ranked the products according to preference, and their perceptions were ascertained by the laddering method. Results indicate that respondents regard ‘non-GM’ as a value in itself, and associate the use of GM with a host of negative consequences and risks, but mostly with uncertainty and unhealthiness. Benefits of the use of GM were perceived and regarded as relevant, but could not compensate for the negative associations. The ‘distance’ dimension had a clear impact on consumer preferences, whereas the ‘what is modified’ dimension had effects which were product specific.