Consumers are more concerned about potential environmental risks of GM crops
than health worries, according to a study conducted in Germany. The results
are published in the International Journal of Consumer Studies.
The research team, composed of scientists from the University of Bonn and
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, aimed to investigate the risk
perceptions of 439 German consumers regarding genetic
engineering. The subjects were divided into four experimental treatment
groups comprised of two policy scenarios, one only permitting research and
development and the other allowing full commercialization of GM products,
and two product end-uses, bioenergy and food.
Results showed that health risks were generally perceived to be lower for GM
crops used for bioenergy than for food. Full commercialization of GM food
prompted higher concerns about personal health, while use of crops for
bioenergy was linked to higher levels of socioeconomic risk. Even if most of
the consumers said that health risk is the most relevant for them, the
consequences for the environment evoked the most degree of perception.