ArticlePDF Available

Consumers’ Willingness to Buy CRISPR Gene-Edited Tomatoes: Evidence from a Choice Experiment Case Study in Germany

Authors:
  • Leibniz-Institute for Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO)

Abstract and Figures

The CRISPR gene-editing (GE) breeding method is used to increase the resilience of high-yielding tomato cultivars against pests and diseases, reducing crop protection requirements. This study investigated consumers’ willingness to buy CRISPR GE tomatoes in a repeated discrete-choice experiment. We observed a strong positive effect of providing information on the CRISPR breeding technology, while the sensory experience of the CRISPR GE tomatoes in a visit to a greenhouse had a rather weak, predominantly negative effect on the participants’ willingness to buy CRISPR GE tomatoes. We found that roughly half of the 32 participants demonstrated constant CRISPR GE tomato choices during the experiments, and these participants were mainly employed as scientists. However, the rest of the participants changed their CRISPR GE tomato choices, with the majority showing an increase in their willingness to buy CRISPR GE tomatoes; these “changers” were dominated by non-scientists. Science communication on CRISPR GE breeding technology should target people with little knowledge about the technology, and consumers of organic tomatoes seem to have more specified, stable preferences regarding the technology. Further, scientific information about the CRISPR GE methodology should preferentially be provided when new technology and information about it are not yet widespread and people have not yet formed a strong opinion about the technology.
Content may be subject to copyright.


Citation: Götz, L.; Svanidze, M.;
Tissier, A.; Brand Duran, A.
Consumers’ Willingness to Buy
CRISPR Gene-Edited Tomatoes:
Evidence from a Choice Experiment
Case Study in Germany. Sustainability
2022,14, 971. https://doi.org/
10.3390/su14020971
Academic Editors:
Konstadinos Mattas,
George Baourakis and Stefanos
A. Nastis
Received: 30 November 2021
Accepted: 5 January 2022
Published: 15 January 2022
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral
with regard to jurisdictional claims in
published maps and institutional affil-
iations.
Copyright: © 2022 by the authors.
Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and
conditions of the Creative Commons
Attribution (CC BY) license (https://
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/
4.0/).
sustainability
Article
Consumers’ Willingness to Buy CRISPR Gene-Edited Tomatoes:
Evidence from a Choice Experiment Case Study in Germany
Linde Götz 1, 2, *, Miranda Svanidze 1, Alain Tissier 3and Alejandro Brand Duran 3
1
Department Agricultural Markets, Marketing and World Agricultural Trade, Leibniz Institute of Agricultural
Development in Transition Economies (IAMO), 06120 Halle, Germany; svanidze@iamo.de
2Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg,
06108 Halle, Germany
3Department of Cell and Metabolic Biology, Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry (IPB),
06120 Halle, Germany; alain.tissier@ipb-halle.de (A.T.); Alejandro.BrandDuran@ipb-halle.de (A.B.D.)
*Correspondence: goetz@iamo.de; Tel.: +49-345-2928-327
Abstract:
The CRISPR gene-editing (GE) breeding method is used to increase the resilience of high-
yielding tomato cultivars against pests and diseases, reducing crop protection requirements. This
study investigated consumers’ willingness to buy CRISPR GE tomatoes in a repeated discrete-choice
experiment. We observed a strong positive effect of providing information on the CRISPR breeding
technology, while the sensory experience of the CRISPR GE tomatoes in a visit to a greenhouse had
a rather weak, predominantly negative effect on the participants’ willingness to buy CRISPR GE
tomatoes. We found that roughly half of the 32 participants demonstrated constant CRISPR GE tomato
choices during the experiments, and these participants were mainly employed as scientists. However,
the rest of the participants changed their CRISPR GE tomato choices, with the majority showing an
increase in their willingness to buy CRISPR GE tomatoes; these “changers” were dominated by non-
scientists. Science communication on CRISPR GE breeding technology should target people with little
knowledge about the technology, and consumers of organic tomatoes seem to have more specified,
stable preferences regarding the technology. Further, scientific information about the CRISPR GE
methodology should preferentially be provided when new technology and information about it are
not yet widespread and people have not yet formed a strong opinion about the technology.
Keywords:
consumers’ willingness to buy; discrete-choice experiment; CRISPR gene-edited tomatoes;
information intervention; scientific communication
1. Introduction
Wild tomato species such as Solanum habrochaites or S. pennellii are known to suffer
from fewer diseases and to be more resistant to pests than cultivated tomato (S. lycopersicum)
varieties. The cultivated tomato varieties used in industrialized horticulture for tomato
production around the world were bred to greatly increase yields. They have larger fruits
and higher yields but are more susceptible to diseases. Apparently, however, in the course
of breeding for increased yields, the activity of the genes responsible for producing certain
defenses weakened or was lost. As a result, the cultivated tomatoes widespread in tomato
production today require more intensive pesticide treatment [1].
One novel application in tomato breeding is the clustered regularly interspaced short
palindromic repeats (CRISPR) gene-editing (GE) technology, which aims to re-activate or
to integrate the appropriate genetic material in the high-yielding tomato cultivars and
make them more resilient and resistant to pests and diseases [
2
]. Ultimately, these CRISPR
GE tomato varieties should allow for a significant reduction in the application of crop-
protection products in tomato cultivation. This would help contribute to the achievement
of the EU’s goal of reducing the use of and risk from chemical pesticides in the EU by 50%
by 2030 [
3
], while still providing end consumers with sufficient tomato supplies. If the
Sustainability 2022,14, 971. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14020971 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Sustainability 2022,14, 971 2 of 12
breeding efforts succeed in keeping yields constant, price increases for the end consumers
might be small.
It should be pointed out that GE foods—similarly to transgenic genetically modified
(GM) foods—are not available to end consumers on the retailers’ shelves in Germany.
Moreover, farmers do not plant crops of genetically engineered—i.e., GE or transgenic
GM—seeds. In 2018, GE organisms were made subject to the EU legislation regarding GM
organisms through a decision from the European Court of Justice [4].
In general, plant breeding involves the modification of genetic information, stored in
the DNA of plants, regardless of whether traditional or modern methods are used. This can
be performed by crossing different varieties with each other or even related wild species to
allow for the introgression of alleles of interest from the wild relatives into the cultivated
background. In addition, another widely used method is mutation breeding. This involves
treating plant seeds with radioactive radiation or chemical substances, for example, or
freezing seeds or subjecting them to a heat shock to induce a change in the plant’s DNA.
The disadvantage of mutation breeding is that it is not known in advance where and how
much genetic material will be changed by the mutation and thus plants with new and
desired mutations and properties but also a range of undesired mutations and properties
can be created. The mutated varieties need to be back-crossed with an elite cultivar many
times until the undesired traits are segregated away and a variety with only the desired
traits emerges. This process is time-intensive and usually takes several years.
The GE breeding method, which was developed only a few years ago, makes it possible
to precisely change—i.e., “edit”—the DNA of an organism. In contrast to traditional
methods, the DNA is cut at a very specific point known to be responsible for a desired plant
trait. A targeted mutation is induced with high precision and thus plants with undesired
properties are rarely created. Therefore, the breeding process is finalized much more
quickly. Although the DNA of a GE plant is altered, no foreign DNA is introduced as with
GM plants. Thus, GE plants are not transgenic.
The application of the CRISPR technology for GE was spurred by the research by
Charpentier and Doudna, who were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020, which
clarified the underlying mechanism of CRISPR [
5
]. The CRISPR method involves the use
of a segment of ribonucleotide acid (RNA), the guide RNA (gRNA), to detect a specific
point in the DNA sequence of the genome that encodes a specific trait. The Cas9 enzyme
functions as a “genetic scissor” and cuts the DNA at the specified point. The double-strand
break of the DNA triggers the DNA repair mechanism, which might induce a mutation
such that the genome is changed irreversibly. The CRISPR system was originally discovered
in bacteria, where it functions as a defense mechanism against viral pathogens [6].
Since GE is a relatively new technology, there are only a few gene-edited foods avail-
able on the market. For example, Sanatech has sold CRISPR-Cas9-modified tomatoes,
which have a higher nutritional value due to their effects on blood pressure and stress
reduction, in Japan since September 2021 [
7
]. This explains why existing research regarding
consumers’ acceptance of GE foods is limited.
Beghin et al. [
8
] have provided an overview of studies on consumer preferences for
gene-edited food. They have indicated that due to the limited availability of GE food on
the market, most of the reviewed studies are hypothetical, raising concerns about a hypo-
thetical bias [9]. Comparing GE to transgenic GM foods, empirical evidence suggests that
consumers in general prefer GE foods over GM foods to some degree [
10
12
]. Nonetheless,
consumers often lack the knowledge to clearly distinguish GE from GM foods [
13
] and,
therefore, without prior information, the distinction may not be made [14].
Thus, another strand of literature has investigated the effect of information on con-
sumer acceptance of genetically engineered food, although the empirical findings are
mixed. While Carrasson et al. [
15
], Dolgopolova et al. [
16
], Costa-Font et al. [
17
], and
Boccaletti et al. [
18
] found that information increases the acceptance of genetically engi-
neered food, Scott et al. [
19
], Rollin et al. [
20
] and McFadden and Lusk [
21
] indicated that
providing new information does not improve consumers’ attitudes towards genetically
Sustainability 2022,14, 971 3 of 12
engineered food. Moreover, Yang and Hobbs [
22
] have explored the effect of different styles
of communication on consumer choices. In particular, they found a stronger positive effect
of narrative-style information compared to logical–scientific communication framing on
consumer choices.
While there are several studies that have investigated the effect of information on
consumer acceptance of genetically engineered food, to the best of our knowledge, very
few studies have focused on the effect of sensory experience. One exception is the study by
Grunert et al. [
23
], which found that consumers with a positive tasting experience had fewer
negative attitudes towards cheese they believed was produced using a GM starter culture.
However, consumer studies have been extensively conducted with regards to the sensory
experiences of non-GM products [
24
26
]. For example, Kallas et al. [
24
] investigated the
role of food neophobia in consumers’ valuation of innovative food products by accounting
for sensory experience. They found that consumers who were more reluctant to eat new
foods also had a lower willingness to pay for food with an innovative trait. Moreover,
food traits such as “organic” and “low greenhouse emissions” contributed to a higher
willingness to pay among consumers in Spain and the UK [27].
Using a discrete choice experiment, this study aims to investigate consumers’ will-
ingness to buy tomatoes produced from GE plants that were bred by the CRISPR method.
Discrete choice experiments are often used when data on consumer behavior cannot be ob-
tained because the respective product is not yet offered on the market and thus the revealed
preferences approach cannot be pursued [
28
]. Discrete choice experiments build on the
random utility theory, which assumes that consumers draw utility from the attributes of
the goods. Two choice options differ in the level of at least one attribute; thus, a consumer
chooses the option from a choice set which provides the highest utility to him or her [29].
We focus on the following research questions: Are consumers willing to buy tomatoes
produced from GE plants? Apart from identifying the willingness to buy within a choice
experiment case study, we analyze the role of information intervention and sensory experi-
ence in the observed consumer behavior towards CRISPR GE tomatoes. Do participants’
choices change if information on the CRISPR breeding technology is provided? Does a
sensory experience, such as the inspection of CRISPR GE tomato plants in a greenhouse
laboratory, influence consumers’ attitudes towards GE tomatoes? It should be pointed
out that the sensory experience in this experiment included inspecting and touching the
CRISPR GE tomato plant and tomato fruit. The CRISPR GE tomato plants presented in
the greenhouse originated from breeding efforts that were aimed at the development of
a tomato cultivar that would be more resistant and resilient to diseases and pests so that
fewer pesticide treatments would be necessary. Furthermore, we aimed to analyze whether
changes in consumer preferences were persistent or whether they might indeed change or
become more well-defined during the repeated choice experiment. We therefore repeated
the choice experiment after a period of one week.
We hypothesize that the information and sensory experience of the CRISPR GE toma-
toes during a greenhouse visit increases the number of participants choosing CRISPR GE
tomatoes in the choice experiment, reflecting an increase in consumers’ willingness to buy
CRISPR GE tomatoes. The choice experiment is supplemented by a questionnaire, which, in
addition to socioeconomic and demographic traits, focuses on factors that could potentially
influence the willingness to buy CRISPR GE tomatoes.
Following a case study approach, this study is of an exploratory nature, meaning the
quantitative analyzability and the generalizability of results to a population are limited [
4
].
Due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, hygiene and distancing rules had to be
applied, which limited the number of people participating in this study, particularly since
the study design included a visit to a greenhouse laboratory. Finally, the spread of the
pandemic limited the acquisition of participants due to movement restrictions put in place
by the government.
Our research hypothesis is only partially supported by the study results. We found
that providing information about the CRISPR breeding technology strongly increased the
Sustainability 2022,14, 971 4 of 12
participants’ willingness to buy CRISPR GE tomatoes. However, the sensory experience
of inspecting and touching CRISPR GE tomatoes during a greenhouse visit decreased
the number of CRISPR GE tomato choices, although to a moderate degree. According to
our results, participants whose preferences towards CRISPR GE tomatoes changed over
the experiment were dominated by non-scientists, while the respondents with constant
preferences for CRISPR GE tomatoes were mainly employed as scientists. This result points
towards the potential importance of knowledge about the new technology in order for it to
be accepted.
2. Materials and Methods
The choice experiment of this study was composed of 4 choice sets with 3 choice
options each. Each choice option represented a package of tomatoes that was characterized
by 4 attributes, i.e., the breeding technology, production process, pesticide level, and the
price (Table 1). Generally speaking, option 1 corresponded with conventional tomatoes,
option 2 represented organic tomatoes, and the hypothetical option 3 covered tomatoes
grown from seeds that were bred using the CRISPR GE method.
Table 1. Characteristics of the choice options.
Attributes Levels Compatibilities
breeding technique traditional; CRISPR GE option 1: traditional
option 2: traditional
option 3: CRISPR GE
production process conventional; organic option 1: conventional
option 2: organic
option 3: conventional
pesticide level average; half of average option 1: average
option 2: half of average
option 3: average; half of average
price per package EUR 3.50; EUR 2.50; EUR
1.50
option 1: EUR 2.50
option 2: EUR 3.50
option 3: EUR 2.50; EUR 1.50
More specifically, option 1 represented a package of tomatoes produced from plants
bred by traditional breeding techniques that was grown within a conventional tomato
production system meeting average standard pesticide level and having a price of EUR
2.50/package. Option 2 depicted a package of tomatoes produced from plants bred by
traditional breeding techniques grown in an organic production systemwith only half of the
average amount of chemical pesticides typically applied for tomatoes and offered at a price
of EUR 3.50/package. Hypothetical option 3 presented a package of tomatoes produced
from plants grown from seeds bred with CRISPR GE technology and conventionally grown,
while the pesticide levels and the price varied between the choice sets. In particular, for
choice sets 1 and 2, the pesticide level of option 3—similar to option 1—was an average
amount, while for choice sets 3 and 4—similar to option 2—it amounted to only half of
the average amount of pesticides used in tomato production. Similar to option 1, the price
for the tomato package in option 3 for choice sets 1 and 3 was EUR 2.50/package, while a
lower price (EUR 1.50) for choice sets 2 and 4 was used.
We did not consider an opt-out option among the choices even though it would
have made the experimental choice situation more similar to a real buying situation in a
supermarket. Sometimes, however, participants may select the opt-out option to avoid
a choice between homogeneous options [
30
,
31
]. By excluding an opt-out option, the
respondents were forced to choose one option out of the three in each choice set, assuming
they had a clear preference.
The questionnaire was designed to identify the factors influencing the willingness to
buy CRISPR GE tomatoes utilizing the theoretical model by Farid et al. [
32
]. Specifically,
questions were targeted at identifying the participants’ knowledge, attitudes, perceived
Sustainability 2022,14, 971 5 of 12
benefits, perceived risk, and trust in the CRISPR technology and the willingness to buy
CRISPR GE tomatoes. The follow-up questionnaire was of a similar design and was
intended to highlight whether any of the possible influencing factors might have changed.
This choice experiment with the 4 choice sets (see Appendix A, Table A1) was con-
ducted 4 times to elicit consumer willingness to buy CRISPR GE tomatoes: (a) without prior
intervention, (b) after the provision of information, (c) following a greenhouse visit, and (d)
within a follow-up experiment (Figure 1). Participation was limited by the precondition to
eat and buy tomatoes regularly.
Sustainability 2022, 13, x FOR PEER REVIEW 5 of 12
Similar to option 1, the price for the tomato package in option 3 for choice sets 1 and 3 was
EUR 2.50/package, while a lower price (EUR 1.50) for choice sets 2 and 4 was used.
We did not consider an opt-out option among the choices even though it would have
made the experimental choice situation more similar to a real buying situation in a
supermarket. Sometimes, however, participants may select the opt-out option to avoid a
choice between homogeneous options [30,31]. By excluding an opt-out option, the
respondents were forced to choose one option out of the three in each choice set, assuming
they had a clear preference.
The questionnaire was designed to identify the factors influencing the willingness to
buy CRISPR GE tomatoes utilizing the theoretical model by Farid et al. [32]. Specifically,
questions were targeted at identifying the participants’ knowledge, attitudes, perceived
benefits, perceived risk, and trust in the CRISPR technology and the willingness to buy
CRISPR GE tomatoes. The follow-up questionnaire was of a similar design and was
intended to highlight whether any of the possible influencing factors might have changed.
This choice experiment with the 4 choice sets (see Appendix, Table A1) was
conducted 4 times to elicit consumer willingness to buy CRISPR GE tomatoes: (a) without
prior intervention, (b) after the provision of information, (c) following a greenhouse visit,
and (d) within a follow-up experiment (Figure 1). Participation was limited by the
precondition to eat and buy tomatoes regularly.
Figure 1. Set-up of the choice experiments.
In the first choice experiment, the participants were asked to directly fill in the
questionnaire and the choice experiment without any prior information about the CRISPR
GE tomatoes. In the second-choice experiment (“information intervention”), information
on the CRISPR GE breeding method was provided orally before the participants were
asked to fill in the choice experiment again.
After the completion of the second choice experiment, participants were taken to a
greenhouse laboratory at the Leibniz Institute for Plant Biochemistry (IPB) in Halle
(Germany) for a visual and tactile sensory experience with the CRISPR GE tomatoes for
the third choice experiment (“sensory experience intervention”). After the greenhouse
visit, participants were asked to fill in the choice experiment for the third time. One week
later, the respondents filled in the choice experiment again and a shortened version of the
questionnaire in the fourth-choice experiment (“follow-up experiment/survey”) which
aimed to verify any changes in choices, especially concerning the CRISPR GE tomatoes,
over time. Changes in choices would indicate whether consumer preferences might have
changed due to the information and sensory experience intervention.
During the “information intervention”, participants were given an oral explanation
of the changes induced by traditional plant breeding in general and the CRISPR GE plant
Figure 1. Set-up of the choice experiments.
In the first choice experiment, the participants were asked to directly fill in the ques-
tionnaire and the choice experiment without any prior information about the CRISPR GE
tomatoes. In the second-choice experiment (“information intervention”), information on
the CRISPR GE breeding method was provided orally before the participants were asked
to fill in the choice experiment again.
After the completion of the second choice experiment, participants were taken to
a greenhouse laboratory at the Leibniz Institute for Plant Biochemistry (IPB) in Halle
(Germany) for a visual and tactile sensory experience with the CRISPR GE tomatoes for
the third choice experiment (“sensory experience intervention”). After the greenhouse
visit, participants were asked to fill in the choice experiment for the third time. One week
later, the respondents filled in the choice experiment again and a shortened version of the
questionnaire in the fourth-choice experiment (“follow-up experiment/survey”) which
aimed to verify any changes in choices, especially concerning the CRISPR GE tomatoes,
over time. Changes in choices would indicate whether consumer preferences might have
changed due to the information and sensory experience intervention.
During the “information intervention”, participants were given an oral explanation
of the changes induced by traditional plant breeding in general and the CRISPR GE plant
breeding method in particular. The difference between the two genetic breeding methods
of GE and transgenic GM was explained and examples of the advantages of CRISPR GE
crops were provided. In addition, participants were introduced to the CRISPR breeding
efforts for tomatoes through an explanation of the background of why they were created,
and the research aims for CRISPR breeding technology [2].
Within the scope of “sensory experience”, the respondents were encouraged to inspect
and touch the traditionally bred tomato and the CRISPR GE tomato plants in order to check
whether any differences could be recognized. In the greenhouse laboratory, additional
information on the CRISPR method was provided and questions by the participants were
answered by a senior scientist. It should be pointed out that, unlike Grunert et al.’s [
23
]
research, the CRISPR GE tomato plants presented in the greenhouse did not offer a direct
extra benefit to the participants. Especially since the breeding experiment was still ongo-
Sustainability 2022,14, 971 6 of 12
ing, the CRISPR GE tomato plants did not yet require fewer pesticides compared to the
traditionally bred tomato varieties. In addition, the presented tomato plants were being
grown for research purposes; thus, they were about two meters tall with many large leaves
and only a few tomato fruits.
Participants in the choice experiment were selected using the method of convenience
sampling. People who could be contacted easily and whose participation could be orga-
nized under the COVID-19 pandemic conditions were gathered. This sampling method
enabled us to conduct the survey despite the strict distance and hygiene rules applied
during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of the small number of participants, we consider this choice experiment
as a case study. Thus, the survey and choice experiment results were not evaluated
quantitatively but rather qualitatively, e.g., by comparing the number of cases within the
study [
33
]. While these results cannot be generalized to the population, they might provide
valuable insights that could guide and justify the design of future data collection efforts [
34
].
3. Results
Data on 32 participants were gathered in November 2020 at the IPB in Halle, Ger-
many [
35
]. The participants’ ages varied between 19 and 56 years with an equal share of
men and women. With 41% of the respondents holding a university degree and 31% having
a PhD, the educational level of the respondents was particularly high and above the average
in Germany. Similarly, with 14 (44%) of the respondents employed as scientists and 17
(53%) as non-scientists, the share of scientists in the sample was above average. This special
characteristic of the sample opened up an opportunity to pay particular attention to the
possible influence of knowledge on the stated choices despite the small size of the sample.
The data gathered within the questionnaire show that the participants’ knowledge
of the CRISPR method was limited, but 94% stated they had an interest in learning more
about genetic engineering in the food sector. Overall, the results reveal a positive attitude,
trust, perceived benefits, and a willingness to purchase GE foods among the majority of the
respondents.
The CRISPR GE tomato choices for the sample of the 32 participants are presented
for each experiment by choice set in Table 2. It is striking that in the overall first choice
set (experiment 1) no participant chose a single CRISPR GE tomato package. In each
experiment, a similar pattern of CRISPR GE tomato choices through the choice sets unfolded.
In particular, the number of CRISPR GE tomato choices was higher for choice set 2 compared
to set 1 in all four experiments. We trace this back to the reduced price of the CRISPR
GE tomatoes—to a level below the price of a conventional tomato package—in choice
set 2 (reduced price effect). Even more participants chose the CRISPR GE tomatoes in
choice set 3 in all four experiments when the CRISPR GE tomato pesticide requirement was
reduced to a level similar to organic tomatoes (reduced pesticide requirement effect). The
number of participants who chose CRISPR GE tomatoes was always highest in choice set
4 when the package of CRISPR GE tomatoes was cheapest and the pesticide requirement
was reduced to a level similar to the organic tomato at the same time (reduced price and
pesticide requirement effect). Overall, amounting to 65, the total number of CRISPR GE
tomato packages chosen was highest for experiment 2 after the information intervention,
which was followed by experiment 4 after the “follow-up survey” with 62 and experiment
3 after the “greenhouse visit” intervention with 59 CRISPR GE tomato packages chosen.
With 45 tomato packages chosen, the preference for CRISPR GE tomatoes was lowest in
experiment 1 without any intervention. The observed overall CRISPR GE tomato choices
resulted from 25 respondents, who chose CRISPR GE tomatoes at least once throughout
the four choice experiments. Overall, 25 respondents chose CRISPR GE tomatoes at least
once throughout the four choice experiments, while seven participants did not choose any
CRISPR GE tomato package at all.
Sustainability 2022,14, 971 7 of 12
Table 2. CRISPR GE tomato choices per choice set and experiment.
Exp. 1 Exp. 2 Exp. 3 Exp. 4
choice set 1 0 5 5 4
choice set 2 9 15 14 15
choice set 3 15 20 18 20
choice set 4 21 25 22 23
total 45 65 59 62
The changes in the CRISPR GE tomato choices throughout the four experiments
are depicted in Table 3. Following the information intervention after experiment 1, an
additional five, six, six, and four CRISPR GE tomato packages were chosen in choice
sets 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively, compared to experiment 1. These changes resulted from
11 participants preferring the CRISPR GE tomato package at least once in experiment 2,
while only one participant chose one less package of CRISPR GE tomatoes. In contrast,
after the greenhouse visit, we observed only two CRISPR GE tomato packages chosen by
two additional participants in experiment 3, while seven respondents chose fewer than
eight CRISPR GE tomato packages. In the fourth-choice experiment, which was conducted
one week after the third-choice experiment, we observed an increase in CRISPR GE tomato
choices by three in total resulting from five CRISPR GE tomato choices more among four
respondents, while two respondents preferred fewer CRISPR GE tomatoes. It should be
pointed out that three of the four respondents with increasing CRISPR GE tomato choices in
experiment 4 had decreased their CRISPR GE tomato choices in the previous experiment 3.
Table 3. CRISPR GE tomato choices and their change per choice set and experiment.
Choices
Exp. 1
Information Intervention
Change Choices
Exp. 2
Compared to
Exp. 1
Greenhouse Visit
Change Choices
Exp. 3
Compared to
Exp. 2
One Week Later
Change Choices
Exp. 4
Compared to
Exp. 3
choice
set 1 0 +5 +1/11
choice
set 2 9 +6 1 +2/1
choice
set 3 15 +6/1 +1/–3 +2
choice
set 4 21 +4 3 +1
total 45 +20 6 +3
From an overall perspective, we found that more CRISPR GE tomatoes were chosen in
experiment 4 compared to experiment 1 in each choice set. More specifically, four, six, five,
and two more CRISPR GE tomato packages were selected in choice sets 1, 2, 3, and 4 of
experiment 4, respectively, summing up to an additional 17 CRISPR GE tomato packages
in total.
We identified 17 respondents who changed their CRISPR GE tomato choices in experi-
ment 4 compared to experiment 1, with one to six changes in CRISPR GE tomato choices
each. Among the changers, 13 participants (41%) chose more, and 4 respondents (13%)
chose fewer CRISPR GE tomatoes (Figure 2). However, the number of CRISPR tomato
choices remained constant for 15 participants. It should be pointed out that 7 of the 15
participants with constant choices chose organic tomatoes in all 16 choice sets continuously.
Sustainability 2022,14, 971 8 of 12
Sustainability 2022, 13, x FOR PEER REVIEW 8 of 12
Table 3. CRISPR GE tomato choices and their change per choice set and experiment.
CRISPR to-
mato choices
exp. 1
information intervention
Change CRISPR tomato
choices
exp. 2 compared to exp. 1
greenhouse visit
Change CRISPR to-
mato choices
exp. 3 compared to
exp. 2
one week later
Change CRISPR to-
mato choices
exp. 4 compared to
exp. 3
choice set 1
0 +5 +1/−1 −1
choice set 2
9 +6 −1 +2/−1
choice set 3
15 +6/−1 +1/-3 +2
choice set 4
21 +4 −3 +1
total 45 +20 −6 +3
Figure 2. Overall change in CRISPR GE tomato choices.
To further evaluate the choices, we built on the special feature of our sample, i.e., that
14 respondents were employed as scientists and 17 as non-scientists, while one did not
indicate the affiliation. We found that the majority of scientists (64%) kept their CRISPR
GE tomato choices unchanged, while the CRISPR GE tomato choices of the majority of the
non-scientists (71%) had changed in experiment 4 compared to experiment 1.
Moreover, the results of the repeated questionnaire filled in during the fourth
experiment show that participants slightly lost trust in the CRISPR technology and
assessed their own knowledge as lower compared to the first questionnaire on average.
Furthermore, the assessment of the willingness to buy remained constant. This is in
contrast to the results of the choice experiment, which indicated that the willingness to
buy substantially increased, which was reflected in the 17 additional CRISPR GE tomato
packages chosen and the 13 respondents with more CRISPR GE choices in experiment 4
compared to experiment 1, while only four respondents had decreased their CRISPR GE
choices.
4. Discussion
To summarize, CRISPR GE tomatoes were widely chosen throughout the choice
experiments with its 16 choice sets. In particular, 25 out of the 32 participants chose a
CRISPR GE tomato package at least once. This result confirms the positive attitude, trust,
and perceived benefits stated by the majority of the respondents towards GE foods in the
questionnaire. The CRISPR GE tomato choice pattern observed in each experiment
suggests that the reduced pesticide amounts in the CRISPR GE tomatoes induced more
3
-2
9
10
-2
5
1
-5
0
5
10
15
20
more less constant
unknown
non-
scientists
number of participants
17 CRISPR tomato
changers
15 participants with constant
CRISPR tomato choices
Figure 2. Overall change in CRISPR GE tomato choices.
To further evaluate the choices, we built on the special feature of our sample, i.e., that
14 respondents were employed as scientists and 17 as non-scientists, while one did not
indicate the affiliation. We found that the majority of scientists (64%) kept their CRISPR
GE tomato choices unchanged, while the CRISPR GE tomato choices of the majority of the
non-scientists (71%) had changed in experiment 4 compared to experiment 1.
Moreover, the results of the repeated questionnaire filled in during the fourth experi-
ment show that participants slightly lost trust in the CRISPR technology and assessed their
own knowledge as lower compared to the first questionnaire on average. Furthermore, the
assessment of the willingness to buy remained constant. This is in contrast to the results of
the choice experiment, which indicated that the willingness to buy substantially increased,
which was reflected in the 17 additional CRISPR GE tomato packages chosen and the 13
respondents with more CRISPR GE choices in experiment 4 compared to experiment 1,
while only four respondents had decreased their CRISPR GE choices.
4. Discussion
To summarize, CRISPR GE tomatoes were widely chosen throughout the choice
experiments with its 16 choice sets. In particular, 25 out of the 32 participants chose a
CRISPR GE tomato package at least once. This result confirms the positive attitude, trust,
and perceived benefits stated by the majority of the respondents towards GE foods in
the questionnaire. The CRISPR GE tomato choice pattern observed in each experiment
suggests that the reduced pesticide amounts in the CRISPR GE tomatoes induced more
participants to choose CRISPR GE tomatoes, and thus this is valued higher by consumers
than a lower price.
We recognize that about half of the respondents changed their CRISPR GE choices
during the experiments. In particular, an additional 17 CRISPR GE tomato packages
were chosen in the fourth experiment compared to the first experiment, arising from 13
respondents increasing and 4 respondents decreasing their CRISPR GE tomato choices. The
increased willingness to buy CRISPR GE tomatoes revealed in the choice experiments is
not in line with the constant level of willingness to buy genetically engineered foods as
stated in the questionnaire filled in during the first and the fourth experiment. We assume
that the willingness to buy that was indirectly identified in the choice experiment better
reflects consumers’ actual preferences than a willingness to buy directly identified through
self-assessment in the questionnaire.
However, the number of CRISPR GE tomatoes chosen varied throughout the exper-
iments. We especially observed a strong positive effect of providing information on the
Sustainability 2022,14, 971 9 of 12
CRISPR technology between choice experiments 1 and 2, leading to an increase in the
CRISPR GE tomatoes chosen by 20 packages in experiment 2. We observed, on the other
hand, a rather weak, predominantly negative effect of the greenhouse visit, which resulted
in a decrease in the chosen CRISPR GE tomatoes by six packages altogether in experiment
3. This result does not confirm our hypothesis that a sensory experience will increase a
willingness to buy. We explain this finding as a result of the type of presentation about
the CRISPR GE tomatoes in the greenhouse. As pointed out above (in Section 2), in a
way different to Grunert et al. [
23
], the presentation of the tomatoes in the greenhouse
did not make evident the actual but rather the potential additional benefits of the CRISPR
GE tomatoes to the participants. In our study, breeding efforts were still ongoing and
the breeding aims, that is, to make a high-yielding tomato variety more resilient against
pathogens and pests, were not yet reached. In this regard, our results confirm the findings
in the literature that genetically engineered foods are accepted more by consumers if they
provide an extra benefit to them. Apart from the 17 respondents who changed their CRISPR
GE tomato choices, the remaining 15 participants showed a constant number of CRISPR GE
tomato choices. In particular, 7 out of the 15 participants with constant CRISPR GE tomato
choices did not choose any CRISPR GE tomatoes throughout the experiments, but rather
chose organic tomatoes in all 16 choice sets. This result may be interpreted as evidence
for participants that prefer organic tomatoes to have more specified preferences regard-
ing CRISPR GE tomatoes. It seems that the willingness to buy CRISPR GE tomatoes by
people preferring organic tomatoes could not be influenced by information and a sensory
experience/acquaintance with the technology.
The results of the choice experiments further reveal that the participants with constant
CRISPR GE tomato choices were dominated by scientists (by 65%), while 70% of the
respondents with changing CRISPR GE tomato choices were employed as non-scientists.
Assuming that the scientists had more knowledge of the CRSIPR technology compared to
non-scientists, these results could be interpreted as evidence that knowledge on the new
technology is key for impacting preferences.
Our study results may be interpreted as evidence for the importance of providing
information and opportunities to become acquainted with the technology to increase
consumers’ willingness to buy food from plants bred by CRISPR, which has also been
confirmed in the existing literature [
22
,
35
]. Consumers of ecologically produced tomatoes
seem to be less likely to change their willingness to buy GE tomatoes, and future research
could test whether consumers of organic tomatoes have more specified preferences and
well-defined opinions about CRISPR GE tomatoes.
5. Conclusions
Our findings serve to draw preliminary conclusions regarding the design of science
communication. In general, science communication aims to provide information on and to
familiarize the general public with new technologies. However, science communication
should rather target people with little knowledge on the new technologies and who do
not yet have well-defined preferences regarding the technology. Furthermore, the format
of science communication should be well selected. Yang and Hobbs [
22
] have shown that
information provided within a narrative form may be better suited for the public versus
the logic-scientific form. When it comes to the timing of science communication, scientific
information on the CRISPR methodology should be provided when the new technology
and information thereof are not yet widespread, and thus people have not yet formed an
opinion on the new technology beyond a general cautiousness against something unknown.
Nevertheless, the results of this case study should be interpreted with care. Due to
the limited size of the sample, these results should not be generalized [
6
]. Despite that, the
results of this case study can provide guidance for future research that would allow for a
generalization of results if based on a larger sample size. Moreover, the factors determining
the tomato choices could be investigated comprehensively within a quantitative analysis of
the survey results in future research.
Sustainability 2022,14, 971 10 of 12
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, L.G., M.S. and A.T.; methodology, L.G., M.S. and A.T.
resources, A.T. and A.B.D., data management L.G.; writing—original draft preparation, L.G.; writing—
review and editing, M.S., L.G., A.T. and A.B.D. All authors have read and agreed to the published
version of the manuscript.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Institutional Review Board Statement:
The study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration
of Helsinki, and approved by the Ethics Committee of IAMO (certificate reference number 03/2020,
issued 6 November 2020).
Informed Consent Statement:
Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.
Data Availability Statement:
Participants were guaranteed anonymity of the data they had provided.
In addition, due to the small sample size, we confirmed that the data will not be shared with
third parties.
Acknowledgments:
We would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for providing very
helpful comments and suggestions to improve the manuscript. Moreover, we would like to thank all
respondents for their time and willingness to participate in the choice experiment. Furthermore, we
are grateful to T.D. for her research assistance to this project provided in the course of conducting her
Master’s thesis.
Conflicts of Interest:
The authors declare no conflict of interest. This publication reflects only the
authors’ views.
Appendix A
Table A1. Design of the choice experiment.
Choice set 1
Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
Breeding technique Traditional Traditional with CRISPR
Production technique Conventional Organic Conventional
Pesticide level Average Half of average Average
Price in EUR per
package EUR 2.50 EUR 3.50 EUR 2.50
Choice set 2
Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
Breeding technique Traditional Traditional with CRISPR
Production technique Conventional Organic Conventional
Pesticide level Average Half of average Average
Price in EUR per
package EUR 2.50 EUR 3.50 EUR 1.50
Choice set 3
Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
Breeding technique Traditional Traditional with CRISPR
Production technique Conventional Organic Conventional
Pesticide level Average Half of average Half of average
Price in EUR per
package EUR 2.50 EUR 3.50 EUR 2.50
Choice set 4
Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
Breeding technique Traditional Traditional with CRISPR
Production technique Conventional Organic Conventional
Pesticide level Average Half of average Half of average
Price in EUR per
package EUR 2.50 EUR 3.50 EUR 1.50
Sustainability 2022,14, 971 11 of 12
References
1.
Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry. Energy for Chemical Barriers Central Carbon and Energy Metabolism of Trichomes Illuminated;
IPB Press Release: Bogor, Indonesia, 2017; Available online: https://www.ipb-halle.de/en/public-relations/news/article-detail/
energie-fuer-chemische-barrieren-auf-blatt-und-staengel/ (accessed on 15 November 2021).
2.
Balcke, G.U.; Bennewitz, S.; Bergau, N.; Athmer, B.; Henning, A.; Majovsky, P.; Jiménez-Gómez, J.M.; Hoehenwarter, W.; Tissier,
A. Multi-Omics of Tomato Glandular Trichomes Reveals Distinct Features of Central Carbon Metabolism Supporting High
Productivity of Specialized Metabolites. Plant Cell 2017,29, 960–983. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
3.
European Commission. Farm to Fork Strategy: For a Fair, Healthy and Environmentally-Friendly Food System; European Union:
Brussels, Belgium, 2020; Available online: https://ec.europa.eu/food/system/files/2020-05/f2f_action-plan_2020_strategy-info_
en.pdf (accessed on 30 October 2021).
4.
Smith, V.; Wesseler, J.H.H.; Zilberman, D. New Plant Breeding Technologies: An Assessment of the Political Economy of the
Regulatory Environment and the Implications for Sustainability. Sustainability 2021,13, 3687. [CrossRef]
5.
Wang, T.; Zhang, H.; Zhu, H. CRISPR technology is revolutionizing the improvement of tomato and other fruit crops. Hortic. Res.
2019,6, 77. [CrossRef]
6. Sanatech Seed. Available online: https://sanatech-seed.com/en/211011-2 (accessed on 25 November 2021).
7. Cibus. Available online: https://www.cibus.com (accessed on 25 November 2021).
8.
Beghin, J.C.; Gustafson, C.R. Consumer valuation of and attitudes towards novel foods produced with new plant engineering
techniques: A review. Sustainability 2021,13, 11348. [CrossRef]
9.
Penn, J.M.; Hu, W. Understanding Hypothetical Bias: An Enhanced Meta-Analysis. Am. J. Agric. Econ.
2018
,100, 1186–1206.
[CrossRef]
10.
Lusk, J.L.; McFadden, B.R.; Wilson, N. Do consumers care how a genetically engineered food was created or who created it? Food
Policy 2018,78, 81–90. [CrossRef]
11.
Muringai, V.; Fan, X.; Goddard, E. Canadian consumer acceptance of gene-edited versus genetically modified potatoes: A choice
experiment approach. Can. J. Agric. Econ. 2020,68, 47–63. [CrossRef]
12.
Marette, S.; Disdier, A.-C.; Beghin, J.C. A comparison of EU and US consumers’ willingness to pay for gene-edited food: Evidence
from apples. Appetite 2021,159, 105064. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
13.
McFadden, B.R.; Smyth, S.J. Perceptions of Genetically Engineered Technology in Developed Areas. Trends Biotechnol.
2018
,37,
447–451. [CrossRef]
14.
Carrasson, M.; Soler-Membrives, A.; Constenla, M.; Escobar, C.; Flos, R.; Gil, J.M.; Luzon, V.; Piferrer, F.; Reig, L. Information
impact on consumers’ perceptions towards aquaculture: Dismantling the myth about feeds for farmed fish. Aquaculture
2021
,544,
737137. [CrossRef]
15.
Dolgopolova, I.; Teuber, R.; Bruschi, V.; Weber, G.-W.; Danilenko, N.; Galitskiy, E. Modelling consumer preferences for novel
foods: Random utility and reference point effects approaches. In Modeling, Dynamics, Optimization and Bio-Economics II: DGS 2014;
Proceedings in Mathematics and Statistics, Porto, Portugal, 17–21 February 2014; Pinto, A.A., Zilberman, D., Eds.; Springer: Cham,
Switzerland, 2017; Volume 195, pp. 165–182.
16.
Costa-Font, M.; Gil, J.M.; Traill, W. Consumer acceptance, valuation of and attitudes towards genetically modified food: Review
and implications for food policy. Food Policy 2008,33, 99–111. [CrossRef]
17. Boccaletti, S.; Moro, D. Consumer willingness-to-pay for GM food products in Italy. AgBioForum 2000,3, 259–267.
18.
Scott, S.E.; Inbar, Y.; Wirz, C.D.; Brossard, D.; Rozin, P. An Overview of Attitudes toward Genetically Engineered Food. Annu. Rev.
Nutr. 2018,38, 459–479. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
19. Rollin, F.; Kennedy, J.; Wills, J. Consumers and new food technologies. Trends Food Sci. Technol. 2011,22, 99–111. [CrossRef]
20.
McFadden, B.R.; Lusk, J.L. Cognitive biases in the assimilation of scientific information on global warming and genetically
modified food. Food Policy 2015,54, 99–111. [CrossRef]
21.
Yang, Y.; Hobbs, J.E. The power of stories: Narratives and information framing effects in science communication. Am. J. Agric.
Econ. 2020,102, 1271–1296. [CrossRef]
22.
Grunert, K.G.; Bech-Larsen, T.; Lähteenmäki, L.; Ueland, Ø.; Åström, A. Attitudes towards the use of GMOs in food production
and their impact on buying intention: The role of positive sensory experience. Agribusiness 2004,20, 95–107. [CrossRef]
23.
Kallas, Z.; Vitale, M.; Gil, J.M. Health Innovation in Patty Products. The Role of Food Neophobia in Consumers’ Non-Hypothetical
Willingness to Pay, Purchase Intention and Hedonic Evaluation. Nutrients 2019,11, 444. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
24.
Torquati, B.M.; Tempesta, T.; Vecchiato, D.; Venanzi, S. Tasty or Sustainable? The Effect of Product Sensory Experience on a
Sustainable New Food Product: An Application of Discrete Choice Experiments on Chianina Tinned Beef. Sustainability
2018
,10,
2795. [CrossRef]
25.
Bi, X.; Gao, Z.; Lisa, H.; Hausmann, D.S. Tradeoffs between sensory attributes and organic labels: The case of orange juice. Int. J.
Consum. Stud. 2015,39, 162–171. [CrossRef]
26.
Akaichi, F.; Giha, C.R.; Glenk, K.; Gil, J.M. How Consumers in the UK and Spain Value the Coexistence of the Claims Low Fat,
Local, Organic and Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Nutrients 2020,12, 120. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
27.
Ison, J.; Kontoleon, A. Consumer Preferences for Functional GM Foods in the UK: A Choice Experiment. AgBioForum
2014
,17,
28–36.
Sustainability 2022,14, 971 12 of 12
28.
Costa-Font, M. Consumer Acceptance, Choice and Attitudes towards Genetically Modified (GM) Food. Ph.D. Thesis, Polytechnic
University of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain, February 2009. Available online: https://www.tdx.cat/bitstream/handle/10803/7059
/01jfmh01de01.pdf?sequence=1 (accessed on 10 October 2021).
29.
Kontoleon, A.; Yabe, M. Assessing the impacts of alternative ‘Opt-out’ formats in choice experiment studies: Consumer preferences
for genetically modified content and production information in food. J. Agric. Policy Res. 2003,5, 1–43.
30.
Veldwijk, J.; Lambooij, M.S.; de Bekker-Grob, E.W.; Smit, H.A.; de Wit, G.A. The Effect of Including an Opt-Out Option in Discrete
Choice Experiments. PLoS ONE 2014,9, e111805. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
31.
Farid, M.; Cao, J.; Lim, Y.; Arato, T.; Kodama, K. Exploring Factors Affecting the Acceptance of Genetically Edited Food among
Youth in Japan. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020,17, 2935. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
32.
Sterns, J.A.; Schweikhardt, D.B.; Peterson, H.C. Using Case Studies as an Approach for Conducting Agribusiness Research. Int.
Food Agribus. Manag. Rev. 1998,1, 311–327. [CrossRef]
33.
Mugera, A.W.; Bitsch, V. Managing Labor on Dairy Farms: A Resource-Based Perspective with Evidence from Case Studies. Int.
Food Agribus. Manag. Rev. 2005,8, 79–98. [CrossRef]
34.
Dörr, T. The Influence of Sensory Experience on Acceptance of CRSPR/Cas Tomatoes—Pilot Study. Master ’s Thesis, Martin
Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Germany, 2009.
35.
Lombardi, G.V.; Berni, R.; Rocchi, B. Environmental friendly food. Choice experiment to assess consumer’s attitude toward
“climate neutral” milk: The role of communication. J. Clean. Prod. 2017,142, 257–262. [CrossRef]
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
We follow the PRISMA extension for scoping reviews to review the emerging international body of empirical evidence on consumers’ attitudes and willingness to pay (WTP) for novel foods produced with New Plant Engineering Techniques (NPETs). NPETs include genome/gene editing, cisgenesis, intragenesis, and RNA interference. These novel foods are often beneficial for the environment and human health and more sustainable under increasingly prevalent climate extremes. These techniques can also improve animal welfare and disease resistance when applied to animals. Despite these abilities of NPETs, evidence suggests that many, but not all, consumers discount these novel foods relative to conventional ones. Our review sorts out findings to identify conditioning factors that can increase the acceptance of and WTP for these novel foods in a significant segment of consumers. International patterns of acceptance are identified. We also analyze how information and knowledge interact with consumer acceptance of these novel foods and technologies. Heterogeneity of consumers—across cultures and borders and in attitudes towards science and innovation—emerges as a key determinant of acceptance and WTP. Acceptance and WTP tend to increase when socially beneficial attributes—as opposed to producer-oriented cost-saving attributes—are generated by NPETs. NPET-improved foods are systematically less discounted than transgenic foods. Most of the valuation estimates are based on hypothetical experiments and surveys and await validation through revealed preferences in actual purchases in food retailing environments.
Article
Full-text available
This perspective discusses the impact of political economy on the regulation of modern biotechnology. Modern biotechnology has contributed to sustainable development, but its potential has been underexplored and underutilized. We highlight the importance of the impacts of regulations for investments in modern biotechnology and argue that improvements are possible via international harmonization of approval processes. This development is urgently needed for improving sustainable development. Policy makers in the European Union (EU) in particular are challenged to rethink their approach to regulating modern biotechnology as their decisions have far ranging consequences beyond the boundaries of the EU and they have the power to influence international policies.
Article
Full-text available
Genetically edited food utilizes new techniques that may decrease all of the risks associated with genetically modified food, or “GMO” food. Safety and labeling regulations for genetically edited food are still new, and it is challenging for the consumer to differentiate it from conventional food. Although genetically edited food has the potential for reducing the risks associated with the gene introduction process, consumer perceptions toward it are still unclear. The research has compared the regulations governing GMO food and genetically edited food in Japan, Europe, and the United States. We found that the genetically edited food regulations in Japan are the most science-based, in the meaning that genetically edited food products are allowed to be sold without any safety evaluation. Based on the difference among regions, we further studied the potential acceptance level for such products among Japanese consumers, where regulation seemed science-based as policy. To understand the factors that may affect the adoption of genetically edited food among youth in Japan, we utilized the structural equation modeling (SEM) method with 180 surveys of Japanese university students to measure six factors: Knowledge, Attitude Towards Technology, Perceived Benefits, Perceived Risks, Trust, and Willingness to Purchase. The survey was conducted twice with an intervention in the middle to measure the effect of science communication, and we found significant differences when comparing the two datasets. The results of this survey indicate the importance of increasing knowledge and the positive role of science communication in increasing the adoption and trust of biotechnology products, such as genetically edited food.
Article
Full-text available
This study investigates the substitution and complementary effects for beef mince attributes drawing on data from large choice experiments conducted in the UK and Spain. In both countries, consumers were found to be willing to pay a price premium for the individual use of the labels “Low Fat” (UK: €3.41, Spain: €1.94), “Moderate Fat” (UK: €2.23, Spain: €1.57), “Local” (UK: €1.54, Spain: €1.61), “National” (UK: €1.33, Spain: €1.37), “Organic” (UK: €1.02, Spain: €1.09) and “Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG)” (UK: €2.05, Spain: €0.96). The results showed that consumers in both countries do not treat desirable food attributes as unrelated. In particular, consumers in Spain are willing to pay a price premium for the use of the labels “Local”, “Organic” and “Low GHG” on beef mince that is also labelled as having low or moderate fat content. By contrast, consumers in the UK were found to discount the coexistence of the labels “Low Fat” and “Organic”, “Low Fat” and “Low GHG” and “Moderate Fat” and “Low GHG”. The results, however, suggest that in the UK the demand for beef mince with moderate (low) fat content can be increased if it is also labelled as “Organic” or “Low GHG” (“Local”).
Article
Full-text available
Fruits are major sources of essential nutrients and serve as staple foods in some areas of the world. The increasing human population and changes in climate experienced worldwide make it urgent to the production of fruit crops with high yield and enhanced adaptation to the environment, for which conventional breeding is unlikely to meet the demand. Fortunately, clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) technology paves the way toward a new horizon for fruit crop improvement and consequently revolutionizes plant breeding. In this review, the mechanism and optimization of the CRISPR system and its application to fruit crops, including resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses, fruit quality improvement, and domestication are highlighted. Controversies and future perspectives are discussed as well.
Article
Full-text available
Consumers’ personality traits are key factors in understanding consumers’ choice and acceptance for health innovations in food products, in particular, food neophobia (FN). The patty product as a traditional pork product (TPP) with two innovative traditional pork products (ITPP) from the untapped pig breed (Porc Negre Mallorquí) in Spain were analysed. Patties were enriched with Porcini (Boletus edulis) using the claim “enriched with a natural source of dietary fiber Beta glucans that may contribute to improve our defence system” (ITPP1) and enriched with blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) using the claim “enriched with a natural source of antioxidant that may help to prevent cardiovascular diseases” (ITPP2). Two non-hypothetical discrete choice experiments were applied to investigate the importance of FN in consumers’ purchase intention (PI) and willingness to pay (WTP) before and after tasting the products. Results showed that the TPP and the ITPP2 received higher than expected PI and WTP. However, after tasting the products, consumers exhibited lower WTP for all ITPP showing the prevalence of the sensory experience on health innovation. The FN was highly related to WTP before the hedonic evaluation. However, it turned out to be non-significant, showing a homogenising role of the sensory experience in reducing the FN impact.
Article
Aquaculture products are commonplace in markets around the world. However, despite efforts to minimize the negative perceptions towards aquaculture, several misbeliefs or myths still persist, and thus globally consumers tend to value wild fish more highly than farmed fish . The lack of information has been shown to be one of the most important causes of this preference, driving buying decisions to be more emotional than rational. The aim of this study was to determine whether scientific-supported information contrasting one myth could contribute to a better perception of farmed products. To that end, consensus on a series of aquaculture-related issues among different scientists, external experts, and aquaculture societies was used to build up the scientific information. This information was provided to 300 Spanish consumers using two different communication tools (150 consumers each tool): an interactive web documentary and a written and printed document, to detect possible differences in the change of consumers' perception. Consumers were asked for their degree of agreement on a set of 14 statements before and after providing the scientific information. A variable collecting the assessment of each of the statements was calculated as the Overall-perception. Possible significant differences between the scores before and after providing the information and for the ‘overall perception’ were analysed separately for each communication tool as well as for the combined sample. Possible relationship between the consumers' perception with the sociodemographic factors, the consumers' knowledge and the fish consumption habits were also assessed. Results show that consumer's perception of aquaculture before the query were moderate (5.6 average in a 0 to 10 scale) but that it increased slightly but significantly and regardless of the communication tool used. Among sociodemographic factors, age and gender were the ones that most influenced consumer's perceptions, being older people those who exhibited a generally more positive opinion towards aquaculture. The effects of consumption habits and knowledge about aquaculture were also the two most explicative factors for change in perception. Importantly, the opinion of consumers with less knowledge about seafood products in general and production methods or consuming only wild fish products, improved after being exposed to the information. These results demonstrate the utility of science- and fact-based communication campaigns to improve the societal perception of aquaculture practices and products, regardless of the tool used to transmit this information.
Article
We compare consumers’ attitude towards and willingness to pay (WTP) for gene-edited (GE) apples in Europe and the US. Using hypothetical choices in a lab and different technology messages, we estimate WTP of 162 French and 166 US consumers for new apples, which do not brown upon being sliced or cut. Messages center on (i) the social and private benefits of having the new apples, and (ii) possible technologies leading to this new benefit (conventional hybrids, GE, and genetically modified (GMO)). French consumers do not value the innovation and actually discount it when it is generated via biotechnology. US consumers do value the innovation as long as it is not generated by biotechnology. In both countries, the steepest discount is for GMO apples, followed by GE apples. Furthermore, the discounting occurs through “boycott” consumers who dislike biotechnology. However, the discounting is weaker for US consumers compared to French consumers. Favorable attitudes towards sciences and new technology totally offset the discounting of GE apples.
Article
In 2016, second-generation genetically modified (GM) potatoes were approved for production and sale in Canada. In this study, we analyze how consumer acceptance of GM potatoes may be affected by various factors, including the trait introduced (i.e., the product benefits), the type of breeding technology used, and the developer of the potato using any technology. We conduct an online survey and use a stated choice experiment to collect data on consumer acceptance of GM and other potatoes in Canada. Random utility models are used to analyze the economic value consumers place on the various attributes of the potatoes. Our results show that consumers are willing to pay more for a health attribute (reduced acrylamide produced when potatoes are fried) and an environmental attribute. Respondents in general need to face discounted prices to buy potatoes created by either gene editing or GM (either transgenic or cisgenic/intragenic) technologies. However, consumers are in general more accepting of the gene editing technology than the GM technologies. Our results also show that government is the most preferred developer of the potatoes, regardless of technology. Results from this study can help guide public and private management of the introduction of new foods when the products are developed with unpopular technologies.
Article
This article explores information framing effects by comparing the effectiveness of using logical‐scientific versus narrative information to communicate with consumers about a new biotechnology application (gene editing). Using data from an online survey of 804 Canadian adults, a discrete choice experiment elicits preferences for diverse novel food attributes and technologies, with respondents randomly assigned to different information conditions. We construct a logical‐scientific information condition, written in a scientific style using the passive voice with generalized and impersonal language and attributed to either a government agency or a scientific organization. In contrast, we frame the narrative‐style information condition as a story, using a lively and vivid personal style, and attributed to either a science journalist or a consumer blogger. Data are analyzed using multinomial logit and random parameters logit models. We find that the information format (logical‐scientific vs. narrative) matters: narratives help reduce negative perceptions regarding agricultural and food technologies. We also examine factors that predispose consumers to seek logical‐scientific versus narrative information sources.