The International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research (ICABR)


Differences in public acceptance between generic and branded GMO-food products: An analytical model


Jacques Viaene, Xavier Gellynck, Annelies Verdurme, University Ghent, Belgium





Genetically modified food (GMO-food) generates considerable consumer reluctance, which morgages its future success. Against this background, the objective of the paper is twofold:

  1. explore how consumers perceive GMO-food products,
  2. develop a model to test and predict consumer attitudes and behavioural intentions towards GMO-food.

Findings in literature are confronted with the results of qualitative market research, namely focus group discussions with consumers and in depth interviews with experts. It focuses on determinants of both consumer attitudes and behavioural intentions. Related to generic GMO-food products, little differences are revealed. However, related to branded GMO-food products attitude and behavioural intention appear to be determined by the behaviour towards the brand. Consumers (intend to) buy (GMO-)food products of a specific brand first and adapt their beliefs and attitudes towards genetic modification afterwards in order to justify their behaviour(al intentions). Therefore, a strong brand may render the modified nature of the food irrelevant for consumers.

The results from literature study, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews serve as a basis for a model to evaluate consumer attitudes and behavioural intentions towards GMO-food. The developed model is tested by means of experimental research through face-to-face interviews with consumers. In this way it is statistically (ANOVA) proved that the model can be used to predict consumer attitudes and behavioural intentions towards (branded and generic) GMO-food. As a result, the model enables the identification of different consumer segments related to attitude and behavioural intention towards GMO-food and the development of a segmented communication policy.



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