Attitudes towards genetically modified animals in food production

J. Frewer, Lynn, Coles, David orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4774-4800, Houdebine, Louis-Marie and A. Kleter, Gijs (2014) Attitudes towards genetically modified animals in food production. British Food Journal, 116 (8). pp. 1291-1313. ISSN 0007-070X

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– Food products developed using genetically modified (GM) animals may soon be introduced in Europe and beyond. Their successful commercialisation depends on consumer acceptance, and so it is timely to review the existing literature in this respect. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

– A systematic review identified 42 English language peer reviewed papers assessing public opinion of GM animals associated with food production. Thematic analysis was applied to the results to identify and explain consumer attitudes.

– Publication peaked in 2004, and declined thereafter. European consumers were less accepting of GM animal technology than the US and Asian consumers, although the latter reported more ethical concern. Risk and benefit perceptions, ethical concerns (e.g. related to animal welfare) may explain negative consumer attitudes towards animals in food production.

Research limitations/implications
– There is a lack of data on consumer attitudes to GM animals applied to food production, in particular in relation to consumers in emerging economies and developing countries. This is problematic as applications of GM animal products are about to enter the market.

Practical implications
– There is a need to track changes in public opinion as GM food production animals are further developed. The introduction and commercialisation of applications with specific characteristics may further shape consumer attitudes.

Social implications
– Methods need to be developed to involve consumers and other stakeholders in shaping future applications of agri-food applications of GM animals.

– The review collates existing quantitative and qualitative knowledge regarding the drivers of consumer attitudes towards GM animals used in food production using systematic review methodology.

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