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Strategic approaches to communicating with food consumers about genetically modified food
- Kim, Nam Hee, Hwang, Ji Yeon, Lee, Hyang Gi, Song, Min Kyung, Kang, Yun Sook, Rhee, Min Suk
- Food control 2018 v.92 pp. 523-531
- anxiety, asthma, atopy, consumer attitudes, crops, education programs, elderly, experts, food production, food purchasing, genetically modified foods, human health, information sources, interviews, mass media, purchasing, risk perception, transgenic plants, South Korea
- The use of genetically modified (GM) crops for food production is rising. This study surveyed consumers in the Republic of Korea to obtain general insights into their perceptions, knowledge, and use of GM crop-based food, their needs for information about GM foods, their GM food-purchasing intentions, their usual food-purchasing habits, and whether there are groups with particular demographic profiles and stances on GM foods that would benefit most from well-designed public education programs. In total, 1096 adults in the Republic of Korea underwent face-to-face interviews in 2017. The cohort composition was based on recent population data. Only 5.8% had a positive stance on GM foods, while 58.8% perceived GM foods as being risky to human health. While 50.3% thought that they were somewhat to very knowledgeable about GM organisms (GMO), their actual knowledge was low (<25% provided correct answers to three basic questions). Mass media was selected as the most common, powerful, and effective source of information. Experts such as professors and scientists were considered the most credible information sources. The “safety of GMO” was by far the most preferred topic for education. This reflects the huge anxiety of the consumers about GM-food safety. Indeed, a large proportion of consumers (54.7%) said they would avoid purchasing GM foods in the future. Future GM food-purchasing intentions related significantly with attitudes to, risk perception of, and knowledge about GM foods (all p < 0.001). Several target groups may benefit most from effective education programs: the elderly, consumers with a family member with an allergy, asthma, or atopy, people with a negative stance on GM foods and/or who perceive them to be risky, and people who strongly prefer environmentally friendly food. These findings on current consumer attitudes to GM foods will facilitate strategic approaches to educating the public about GMO and GM foods.