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Consumer valuation of information about food safety achieved using biotechnology: Evidence from new potato products

Jonathan R. McFadden and Wallace E. Huffman

Food Policy, 2017, vol. 69, issue C, 82-96

Abstract: This study focuses on the role of food labels and information for affecting consumers’ valuation of food safety achieved through application of biotechnological (biotech) methods. In 2002, potato products cooked to a high temperature were first reported to contain the human carcinogen acrylamide. Research discoveries using genetic engineering can substantially reduce carcinogenic-forming potential, and thereby increase food safety of potato products. Adult consumers from three distant regions of the U.S. were the subjects in lab auctions of potato products. They engaged in distinct rounds of bidding, first without packaged information and again after receiving information about the food safety risks and benefits of new biotech potato products. The study finds that willingness-to-pay (WTP) for these new potato products are not significantly different from conventional potato products under no information. However, exposure to a scientific perspective and scientific plus industry perspectives increases participants’ willingness-to-pay for the new potato products and reduces willingness-to-pay for conventional products. Exposure to the negative perspective on the new technology significantly reduces willingness-to-pay. Consumer valuation of the new potato products is affected by food labels, information, and consumer attributes. A consumer information program could be needed to gain consumer acceptance of these potato products or other foods that have been genetically modified to increase certain food safety dimensions.

Keywords: Experimental auctions; Potato products; Information and labeling effects; Biotechnology; Food safety (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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