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New research examines consumer views on gene-edited products

The FMI Foundation in partnership with the American Seed Trade Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the Farm Foundation, released a consumer research study measuring market potential for gene-edited products. The nationwide survey examined U.S. consumers beliefs, awareness, and understanding of gene editing in food and agriculture, and their willingness-to-pay for gene-edited foods as it pertains to fresh and processed vegetables and meat. 

Dr. Vincenzina Caputo, assistant professor at the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics at Michigan State University, in collaboration with Valerie Kilders, research assistant at Michigan State University, and Dr. Jayson Lusk, Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, surveyed nearly 5,000 US food shoppers who completed simulated purchasing scenarios. Respondents chose between products depicted to be organic, non-GMO, bioengineered, conventional, or gene edited. 

Some of the key takeaways from the research include:

  • More than half of consumers have never heard of gene editing.
  • Despite limited awareness of gene editing, most consumers still value having the option to buy gene-edited foods.
  • Consumers are more willing to purchase gene-edited foods when they know the specific benefits to the consumer, the environment and animal health.
  • When consumers are informed of the benefits of gene editing, market potential for gene-edited products exceeds 15 percent.

“Gene editing, as a plant and animal breeding technique, is a relatively new food technology, so we believed it was important to establish a baseline for consumer understanding and how that level of understanding impacts purchasing decisions,” stated Leslie Sarasin, President and CEO of FMI, the Food Industry Association. 

“The promise that gene editing brings to farmers and ranchers in helping them address some of the most challenging issues means that it is critical we get out in front and engage our neighbors on the benefits of gene editing,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation’s largest general farm organization. To continue to advance we need consumer trust and we also need an appropriate policy framework that does not put our farmers and ranchers in a competitive disadvantage.”

“It is noteworthy that the more information we can share early on about the specific benefits of gene editing, the greater consumer knowledge and acceptance there is,” said Shari Rogge-Fidler, president and CEO of the Farm Foundation. “This new technology offers a lot of opportunity for sustainable food production and benefits to the environment, animal welfare, consumers, and farmers, so it is important that we take crucial steps in communicating with consumers.”  

The FMI Foundation spearheaded the research as part of its Unified Voice Protocol (UVP) initiative that is designed to bring together key stakeholders on emerging issues impacting consumer trust. This is the second pilot project under the UVP.

For more information: 
Food Industry Association
Tel: +1 (202) 452-8444
www.fmi.org


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