Consumers who understand the concept of bioengineered foods are more willing to eat them, according to a new study from Iowa State University.
The study surveyed 2,000 U.S. adults, asking them about their willingness to eat both processed and raw foods that have been gene-edited. It found that “most people had heard or read very little about the topic, and most had only a fair understanding of the technology,” and that there was a lot of ambivalence about the issue.
Researchers found that the more knowledgeable respondents were about bioengineered foods, the more likely they are to be willing to consume them. Those who placed greater trust in biotech companies and in government regulators were more likely to be willing to eat bioengineered foods. To a lesser extent, higher incomes and a willingness to consider nutritional content in food decisions also factored into choosing them.
On the other hand, those who personally care a great deal about the issue are the most likely to seek to avoid bioengineered foods. Those who say food ethics, like sustainable sourcing, are important to them are also less likely to consume them. Other factors with negative correlation to choosing bioengineered food include placing high trust in the environmental organizations that monitor the issue, being religious and being politically conservative.
“Our findings indicate that social values about technology and food ethics are the main reasons driving willingness to eat and purposeful avoidance of GE foods,” the authors conclude.