Communicating the risks and benefits of genetically engineered food products to the public: The view of experts from four European countries

Publikation: Working paperForskning


  • Wp57

    Forlagets udgivne version, 200 KB, PDF-dokument

  • The Department of Business Administration
  • MAPP - Centre for Research on Customer Relations in the Food Sector
Executive summary 1. Previous research on the risks and benefits of genetically engineered food products has not accounted for risk communication issues. The introductory part of this paper develops a more comprehensive model. Risks and benefits enter the model as the input of a risk communication process. The relevant actors transfer the raw information into a series of messages, subjecting it to varying degrees of correctness, completeness, comprehensibility, and (although less deliberately) credibility. Successful implementation depends on the constructive interaction between the involved actors, reaching relevant target groups, and achieving dialogue with the consumer. On the consumer side, different variables can be affected: knowl and problem awareness as cognitive dimensions, attitudes and trust as evaluative dimensions. 2. Expert focus groups were conducted in Denmark, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Leading representatives of the following parties took part: scientific research, authorities responsible for the approval of genetically modified organisms, suppliers of genetically modified organisms, the food processing industry, associations of the food industry, agricultural organizations, retail, media, professi communication agencies, consumer organizations, and environmental organizations. Altogether, 48 experts participated in the study. Data were classified according to a category system derived from the risk communication model and subjected to furth qualitative analyses. 3. Results indicate that most products that have already entered the European market are perceived as a first generation whose quality attributes pertain to improved cultivation, processing, and distribution characteristics, resulting in price advantages that can be transferred to consumer markets. Many producers hope that the second generation will take over the market for functional foods. Indeed, the second generation is still missing. Potentials for a more sustain production should meet the increased ecological awareness of European consumers. However, many experts perceive a biased perspective in the public, based on moral rather than ecological concerns. 4. Cross-national differences between the four involved countries are not very pronounced. Results suggest a temporally delayed onset of the risk discussion in Italy. In the northern EU countries, the expert community has already shifted from the public discussion of risks to the communication of benef 5. Six prototypical communication strategies are identified: the scientific information approach, the balanced information approach, the product information approach, classical advertising, restoring credibility, and reassuring the target audience. T former three aim at the cognitive dimensions, the latter three are persuasion approaches and aim at evaluative dimensions. Existing empirical evidence is considered for a preliminary valuation of the strategies. However, further research is needed judge their effectiveness with regard to communication about genetically modified food products.
UdgiverAarhus School of Business, MAPP Centre
StatusUdgivet - 1998


  • HHÅ forskning, MAPP

Se relationer på Aarhus Universitet Citationsformater


Ingen data tilgængelig

ID: 32300270