A comparison of UK and US consumer Attitudes Towards Genetically Modified Organisms Within Food
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Purpose Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods is a current topic consumers demonstrate interest in. Many research studies analyse US consumer attitudes toward GM foods. Similarly, many studies analyse EU consumer attitudes, however, EU consumer attitudes differ amongst individual countries as 19 of the 28 Member of States voted against GMO authorisation. UK consumer opinions differ from other EU countries. There is a need for research that compares UK and US opinions, this may impact the commercialisation of GMOs. Method A mixed method, self-complete, anonymous, online questionnaire was conducted amongst UK and US participants (n=68). All participants were aged 18-64 and had resided in the UK or US for a minimum of 6 months. A convenient sample was gathered via LinkedIn, Facebook and email. Variables analysed were demographic characteristics, information available and sources, level of knowledge, willingness to buy, approval and labelling. A statistical analysis was carried out on all data, chi-square analysis was used for quantitative data, and thematic analysis was used for qualitative. Findings UK and US consumers demonstrated differences and similarities. The results stated UK and US consumers possess significantly different attitudes towards; sale of GMOs to the public, willingness to buy and approval. For example, a majority of UK participants (72%) would buy GM food product, however 60% US participants would not (p-value= 0.03). Consumers exhibited similar opinions towards information available, level of knowledge, labelling, food type, and perceived consumer health impacts. Originality/value From reviewing previous research it is evident UK and US consumer attitudes have differed over time and are continuously changing, however there is limited academic literature detailing this. It is important to decipher the influences on consumer attitudes in order to understand consumer attitude. Due to emerging food technologies becoming increasingly researched within the industry, and genetically modified organisms becoming more available, consumer acceptance and influences must be understood. The findings of this research may be used by corporations within the food industry, the government, or consumer attitudinal analysts.
BSc (Hons) Food Science and Technology
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