A purchasing experiment in which genetically modified (GM) and conventional french fries were offered for sale at fast food stands in Germany was conducted to assess whether a market exists for GM fries and to identify factors influencing the willingness to buy such fries. The GM and conventional fries were offered for sale at the same price at eight different locations. The GM fries were labelled as being made from “environmentally-friendlier genetically modified potatoes (much less sprays)” while the regular fries were labelled as being made from “conventional potatoes”. Consumers were not aware of their participation in the purchasing experiment until after their purchasing decisions were made. The goal of the experimental set-up was to mimic an actual buying situation to the fullest extent possible. Therefore, information, such as the percentage in reduction of pesticide application or genetic information on the GM potato, were not provided to customers. Of the 331 customers who made a purchasing decision, 56.5% decided to purchase conventional fries and 22.4% GM fries, while 21.1% had no preference between conventional fries and GM fries. A short questionnaire was administered after purchasing decisions were made to better understand factors impacting purchasing decisions. Results from a logistic regression model revealed that worry about pesticides, frequency of organic food purchases, perceptions of the risk of GM foods on health, and the acceptability of GM foods for the environment significantly impact the probability that a customer is willing to buy GM fries. A surprising result is that people who purchase organic food often or always have much higher odds of being willing to purchase GM fries compared to people who purchase organic food less often. The main implication of this study is that a market for fries made from GM potatoes with less pesticide applications currently exists in Germany and could be expanded by providing more information about their genetic origin and reduced pesticide usage.


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