Navigating the Grocery Store Aisle

GMO food impacts my health influences my food purchases.'' This part of the survey also assessed how often consumers purchased foods with a non-GMO label. Overall, the authors found that attitudes toward GMO foods and labeling did not always correlate with purchasing behavior. Specifically, consumers with a positive attitude toward non-GMO foods did not necessarily purchase non-GMO food more often, There appears to be only a moderate relationship between a consumer’s knowledge about GMO foods and how often they purchase them and only a weak relationship between consumers’ knowledge and their attitude toward GMO foods. Thus, while attitude and knowledge affect behavior, the link between knowledge and attitude is unclear. They also found little evidence of a relationship between demographic variables and knowledge, education, or behavior. Wunderlich et al. (2018) surveyed members of Montclair State University to assess the relationship between knowledge of GMO foods and purchasing behavior. Respondents were asked whether they had heard of the terms “genetically modified,” “organic,” and “conventionally grown,” and then were asked to state their beliefs about the effect of each of those methods on the environment (“harmful,” “beneficial,” “no effect,” “don’t know”). Participants then responded using a Likert scale to statements about how often their environmental beliefs affect their purchasing decisions, as well as how often they consider environmental effects in their purchasing. Nearly 100% of respondents recognized the terms GMO and organic, while only 70% had heard of conventionally grown. While 57% of respondents said they believe GMOs have a harmful effect on the environment, this number rose to 63% for conventionally produced foods; conversely, 71% believed that organic had a beneficial effect. Those who said they believe that organic foods have a beneficial effect, and those who said they believe that GMO foods have a harmful effect, reported that those beliefs influence their purchasing decisions more frequently than those who are unsure or hold the opposite view said that they do. However, views on organic food production affected behavior more frequently than views on genetic modification. The authors found no relationship between demographic variables and beliefs and behavior. Turning to international research, in a survey of Chinese consumers, Zhu et al. (2018) assessed formation of attitudes toward GMO food and the effect of those attitudes on purchase intention. They began by measuring knowledge of GMO food, asking consumers to respond to four true or false statements:


“Eating GMO food alters your genes.”

2. “A father’s genetic material determines whether a child is a boy.”

3. “GMO bacteria can clean polluted beaches.”

4. “Traditional tomatoes do not contain genes, whereas GMO tomatoes contain genes.”

Then they measured respondents’ risk perception, using respondents’ Likert scale responses to these statements:

1. “Eating GMO food will damage my health, as well as my family’s.”

2. “Eating GMO food will have chronic negative effects on human health.”

3. “Eating GMO foods will have negative effects on offspring.”


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