The Biotechnology Communication Paradox: Experimental Evidence and the Need for a New Strategy

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In the past, communication strategies aimed at facilitating consumer acceptance of genetically modified foods have focused on technology-driven, top-down practices. The utility of these practices in influencing the extent to which consumers accept specific GM foods was tested in attitude change experiments involving 1655 consumers from Denmark, Germany, Italy, and the UK. Different information strategies were tested against a control group for their ability to change consumer attitudes. No attitude change occurred. Rather, results indicate that all strategies had a uniform attitude activation effect that significantly decreased consumers' preferences for GM foods as compared to the control group. The discussion focuses on why technology-driven information strategies have failed to convince consumers of the merits of GM foods, and relates these results to recent changes in consumer policy that are aimed at engaging consumers in the debate about innovation processes rather than attempting to align their views with those held by expert communities.

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