Yoko Saito
Hokkaido University, Japan
Yuki Sasakawa
Life & Bio Plaza 21, Japan
Yutaka Tabei
Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS), National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), Japan
Shoichi Ito
Kyusyu University, Japan

Genetically modified crops have been controversial from a health—as well as an environmental—standpoint, and the science community puts substantial effort into communicating with consumers. Relevant to the communication effort, GM technology is now being used to expand food as well as agricultural functionalities, offering the possibility of wider consumer acceptance. A case in point is the development of a GM rice that alleviates allergic reactions to cedar pollen. We conducted an online consumer survey of those manifesting an allergic reaction and investigated whether they respond positively to the new GM benefit. Our results indicate that respondents who perceive at least the possibility of a consumer functionality in GM technology tend to have little health-risk concern in general, and tend to be willing to try medical rice in particular. The implication is that GM acceptability can be influenced by the presence of a positive functionality and not by just the apparent absence of negative ones.

Key words: Consumer risk perceptions, willingness-to-try, genetically modified rice, immunotherapy treatment, GM medical benefits.