Consumer responses to genetically modified food in China: the influence of existing general attitudes, affect and perceptions of risks and benefits

Shan Jin*, Wenjing Li, Ian Dawson, Beth Clark, Si Chen, Lynn Frewer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Identifying the factors that influence people’s acceptance of genetically modified (GM) food can inform industries and policymakers regarding their innovation trajectories, and policy development and implementation. The relative importance of existing general attitudes towards GM food, and of affective responses to specific GM food applications in shaping associated risk perceptions and acceptability, has been infrequently assessed in empirical research. The present study used an online survey with Chinese consumers (n = 1,411) to explore how general attitudes and affect interact and inform people’s responses to three GM food applications. The results of structural equation modelling indicated the perceived benefits of GM foods were the most important predictor of acceptability. General attitudes and affect both had larger impacts on acceptability compared to risk perceptions, with general attitudes having a larger effect for the GM yeast and GM soybean and affect exerting a stronger influence for the GM pig. General attitudes also had a moderating effect on the relationship between risk perceptions and application acceptability, reinforcing the systemic cognitive bias that generalises general attitudes-induced a priori judgements to all three GM food applications. When respondents associated GM applications with tampering with nature, perceived unnaturalness and risk perceptions both increased. Collectively, the results indicate that the design of communication about GM food applications should incorporate the influence of affect invoked by the reported benefits and risks of applications, alongside accommodating the potential influence of the recipients’ existing general attitudes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104543
Number of pages13
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Volume99
Early online date7 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 7 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • genetically modified food
  • existing general attitudes
  • affect heuristic
  • tampering with nature
  • risk perception

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