The International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research (ICABR)

 

A Comparison of Consumer Attitudes toward Genetically Modified Food in Ireland and the United States

Marianne McGarry Wolf
Cal Poly State University
California, USA

Juliana McDonnell
Christine Domegan
National University of Ireland, Galway
Ireland

The objective of this research is to use a case study to compare consumer attitudes toward genetically modified food in the United States and Europe using two communities. The research used a survey instrument that was administered through the use of a personal interview. The first phase of this research examines 423 randomly selected food purchasers. The second phase of this research examines 459 randomly selected food purchasers. A third phase of research commenced in September 2000 with a random sample of 324 respondents. All phases of research were conducted in San Luis Obispo, California and Galway, Ireland. San Luis Obispo has a population of approximately 42,000 and Galway has a population of approximately 57,000.

The results of the first and second phases of research indicated that there is a similar level of familiarity with genetically modified food in Ireland and the U.S. Approximately 43% of respondents in both countries indicated that they were familiar with genetically modified food. Phase 1 and 2 indicated a difference in attitudes between the Irish consumer and consumers in the United States toward genetically modified food. The familiar U.S. respondents perceived genetically modified food to have neutral or positive attributes. The Irish consumer attributed more negative attributes to genetically modified food. Further, they are more likely to indicate that mandatory labeling is important and less likely to purchase a genetically modified food product. However, the Irish and consumers in the United States indicated similar attitudes toward genetically modified food during the third phase of research.

This third phase of research examines attitudes toward science, food purchasing behavior, familiarity with genetically modified food, attitudes toward government agencies and food safety, attitudes toward food producers and food safety in addition to consumer attitudes toward genetically modified food. General consumer attitudes toward genetically modified food are examined. In addition, consumer attitudes toward genetically modified food are examined based on the purpose for the use of biotechnology: to help plants withstand weed killers, to improve nutrition, to kill pests and allow farmers to use less pesticide, and to improve taste. Respondents indicated that the most important reason to purchase a genetically modified food product is to improve nutrition followed by modifying it to kill pests and allow farmers to use less pesticides. Genetically modifying food products to improve taste and help plants withstand weed killers were less important reasons to purchase a genetically modified food product. This research shows that perceptions of government agencies and food safety and their perceptions of food producers and food safety is related to a consumer’s attitudes toward genetically modified food.


Home Page Program Registration Hotel accommodation Ravello and surroundings Social program