Do defaults matter? Willingness to pay to avoid GM food vis-à-vis organic and conventional food in Denmark, Great Britain and Spain

The introduction and communication of new technologies in the food industries has given rise in the past to some scientific uncertainty that hampers informed choice. Here we draw upon the case of Genetically Modified (GM) technology and, in particular, on different types of GM food, to investigate consumers’ behavioural reactions to GM food as well as their willingness to pay for avoiding GM food in three EU countries, Denmark, GB and Spain in 2007. Our unique contribution lies in that our empirical analysis concerns two food products containing different characteristics. In particular, we compare consumers’ reactions to cornflakes (to represent a processed food) and tomatoes (to represent a 'fresh' food) juxtaposed with GM and conventionally produced food. Our results reveal that, although GM food is the least preferred production process (vis-à-vis organic or conventional food), consumers can be divided into two groups depending on their preferences for organic food. Namely, a first group is made up of GB and Spain where consumers are willing to pay a small, or modest, premium over the respective market average price, and a second group is that of Denmark where consumers’ willingness to pay is significantly larger. Although risk is an influential characteristic, risk rankings indicate that GM food is perceived as less risky than irradiation, artificial growth hormones in food or pesticides used in the production process.

Issue Date:
Mar 29 2010
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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