Consumer approval of genetic modification of food products: a comparison of United States and South Korean perspectives
Genetic modification presents the potential to advance not only agricultural production but to increase quality of life as well. The potential this innovation presents will be irrelevant if the public is unwilling to accept and adopt it. The following study examines public perceptions of biotechnology, specifically the consumer approval of genetically modified food products.
This study was based on data collected from a national survey conducted in both the United States and South Korea. The United States survey was designed to be nationally representative and consisted of 1201 respondents. The South Korean survey was also designed to be nationally representative and consisted of 1054 respondents
Analysis was conducted using two questions from the survey questionnaire as dependent variables: (1) approval of the use of genetic modification in the creation of plant-based food products, and (2) approval of the use of genetic modification in the creation of animal-based food products. This study utilized probit models for binary choice and ordered probit models to analyze the likelihood of consumer approval of the use of genetic modification for the creation of food products.
Findings indicated that consumers in the U.S. and South Korea who possessed an accurate knowledge of the applications and outcomes of GM technology were more likely to approve of its use for the creation of foods than those who had inaccurate or no knowledge of the technology. Additionally, the majority of consumers in the U.S. and South Korea believe that GM foods should be labeled as such. Those consumers who felt GM labeling to be necessary were less likely to approve of the GM of foods than those who did not feel GM labeling to be necessary. It was also found that consumers in both countries are less approving of the GM of animals than the GM of plants. Consumer approval of the use of genetic modification in the creation of food products can be increased with proper education that provides accurate knowledge of the applications of GM. Labeling of GM products is likely to result in a decrease in demand, which may be offset by public educational campaigns.