According to a study based on experimental auctions in Europe and the United States, consumers are impacted considerably by the information that they receive about GM, otherwise known as genetically modified food (Lusk et al. 2004). Conducted in three locations in the United States and two locations in Europe, the study focused on how consumers reacted to ingesting food with genetically modified ingredients. The researchers gave consumers compensation to imbibe GM cookies. During the experimental auctions, consumers received information about the beneficial properties of GM food crops and their production.
The study by Lusk et al. (2004) revealed that consumers sharply decreased the amount of their monetary compensation after receiving information about the benefits of GM food to the environment, human health, and the world in general. On the other hand, French consumers did not decrease their bids in the auction and were largely unaffected by the beneficial impact of GM products. Moreover, French consumers increased their bids when they heard this type of information. As a result, environmental information had a different impact on consumers from around the globe.
This research also revealed that the reactions of consumers were significantly influenced by their prior opinions about genetically modified foods (Lusk et al. 2004). Accordingly, consumers who had a more favorable view of genetically engineered food products, as conveyed in survey responses, were inclined to decrease their bids much more when they received positive information than other consumers. This finding suggests that consumers that initially disapprove of genetically modified food are likely to be more skeptical about the new information that does align with their prior opinions. Similarly, customers with a biased attitude toward GM food were also less likely to change their opinions. On the whole, Lusk et al. (2004) claim that agribusinesses ought to aim their advertising strategies at consumers who either favor technology or are less likely to have a prior bias. By targeting such consumers, agribusinesses will be able to make a better profit with the sales of genetically modified food crops.
While the study leaves some questions unanswered, it also provides valuable information for future research. For instance, Lusk et al. (2004) point out that the way consumers perceive information is significantly impacted by location and prior opinions on GM foods. Moreover, different regions of Europe and the USA produce dissimilar results to the information they receive, suggesting that a homogenous message may not be applicable across all audiences. Future studies may focus on the reactions of consumers to positive as well as negative information about genetically modified food to identify which messages are more influential. Although the study has some limitations, its findings may be valuable for students, educators, and agribusinesses. The research presents a comprehensive analysis of how information about genetically modified foods influences the choices made by consumers.
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