The objective of this research was to gain insight into consumers>> attitudes towards genetic modification in food production. With means-end chain theory as the theoretical basis, laddering interviews were conducted with 400 consumers in Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy. Perceived risks and benefits of genetic modification in foods were investigated using beer and yoghurt as examples. German and Danish responses revealed more complex cognitive structures than did the results from the United Kingdom and Italy. In all four countries, however, applying genetic modification was associated with unnaturalness and low trustworthiness of the resulting products, independently of whether the genetically modified material was traceable in the product. Moral considerations were voiced as well, as were a number of other consequences that were perceived to conflict with both individual and social values.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.