Navigating the Grocery Store Aisle

parents were, the less optimistic the students were. Male students were less optimistic than female students, and first- and second-generation students were less optimistic than native students. Students who are more aware of GMOs are more optimistic. Compared to youth from the United States, Canadian students were more aware of GMOs, and Mexican students were less aware. Compared to youth from the United States, Canadian and Mexican students were more optimistic about the evolution of GMOs over the next 20 years.

In a study of Japanese university students, Farid et al. (2020) found that providing information about GMO technology increased student interest in purchasing genetically modified food products.

In a study of Flemish secondary school students, Maes et al. (2018) found that students were indifferent to consumption of GMO foods, had little knowledge about GMOs, and were neutral in their attitudes/risk assessment. Both subjective and objective knowledge assessments were positively correlated with a willingness to eat GMO foods, as was trust in information about GMOs. All students were unfamiliar with GMO labeling guidelines. Boys were more accepting of GMO foods and indicated they are more willing to eat them, see fewer perceived risks, and see more benefits. The authors argue for a “teach the controversy” model of education that focuses o n biotechnology and the socio- cultural GMO debate.

“ O RGAN I C ” AN D “ N A TU R A L ” L A B E L S

Research has determined that consumers often think that food labeled “organic” and “natural” is healthier than it may actually be. Some studies suggest that this “halo effect” could be mitigated by more complete information about these labels. Diaz et al. (2010) surveyed Spanish customers about their organic food knowledge and preferences. Most respondents said they were familiar with organic certification, and 77% were willing to pay a premium for organic tomatoes, leading to an average willingness to pay a premium of 45%. However, the majority of participants said they did not understand the attributes of organic certification. Domi nick et al. (2018) looked at consumer perceptions of the “all natural” label and found that most respondents overestimated the attributes of the “all - natural” label, and that the likelihood of the “all natural” label leading to increased purchase varied by product and was highest for cheese and milk. The Diaz et al. (2010) study also revealed that buying behavior and perceptions of labels vary depending on demographics. They found that male respondents were less likely to buy an item just because it’s labeled “organic” or “natural,” while higher -income shoppers are more likely to buy that item. Using an online survey, Maruyama et al. (2021) found that consumers are more likely to accept an ingredient if they perceive that the ingredient is natural. Respondents who grocery shopped for children tended to perceive added ingredients as less natural, while those who were older or had more knowledge of added ingredients perceived those ingredients as being more natural. Migliore et al. (2018) found that those with positive attitudes toward the environment were more likely to choose gum labeled “natural,” but there was no relationship between their likelihood to buy natural gum and their being concerned about their health.


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