Appetite. 2023 Jan 8:106450. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2023.106450. Online ahead of print.
Genetically modified (GM) foods have been assumed to be seen through intuitive and affective routes (i.e., affect heuristics) rather than analytical and deliberative routes. We examined the impact of the graphical presentation of benefits derived from GM or conventionally bred foods on the acceptance of these varieties. In the two experiments (n = 266 for study 1 and n = 402 for study 2), no differences emerged in the estimation of farmers’ benefits resulting from the introduction of improved varieties by the type of improvement. However, there was a statistically significant difference in the magnitude of risk and the degree of acceptance of the improved varieties. Therefore, despite presenting identical benefits as a graphical figure, GM foods were consistently evaluated as providing higher risk and were less frequently accepted than conventionally bred foods. These results suggest that while the graphical presentation of benefits may promote comprehension of some advantages of the introduction of GM varieties, this may not lead to acceptance from the consumer’s point of view. Based on the current findings, as well as previous studies on trust in risk managers, we discuss the specific factors that might promote acceptance of GM products.