Amir Heiman
Hebrew University, Israel
David Zilberman
University of California at Berkeley

In this article, we explore the effect of framing statements on perceptions and choices of genetically modified vegetables (GMVs). In two experiments, consumers were exposed to either positive or negative statements about GMVs; asked to indicate the extent to which they agree or disagree with these statements; and, finally, choose between genetically modified (GM) and conventionally grown vegetables. We show that consumers are affected quite easily by the framing (positive/negative) of statements.

The results of our experimental survey suggest that framing affects the perceptions of GM technology, the weight given to health benefits versus taste, and likelihood of selecting GM bell peppers (a hypothetical product). In particular, the results suggest that negative framing of the properties of biotechnology not only affected perception but also increased the weight assigned to health and decreased the weight assigned to taste. We further show that the main effects of knowledge and non-negative perceptions of the contribution of GM products to health increased consumers’ willingness to purchase GM bell peppers. Environmental and moral considerations were found to have little impact on GM selection, and gender was insignificant.

The concluding insights may helpThe actual choice of GM versus non-GM bell pepper was significantly affected by price. Negative framing tends to reduce the likelihood of choosing GM and positive framing tends to increase it. The last point suggests that wording and presentation of a genetically modified trait matter.

The concluding insights may help policymakers in formulating their campaigns aimed at increasing adoption of GM technology, which has the potential to solve food scarcity and nutritional deficits.

Key words: Food, gender, genetically modified.