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Doctoral thesis, 2017

Decision-making and risk responsibility related to the use of food biotechnology

Pakseresht, Ashkan


This thesis contributes to knowledge about consumer decision-making and risk perception related to the use of biotechnology in food production. Paper I presents a meta-analysis that examined the systematic evidence from existing research on consumers’ evaluation of biotechnology in food products. The results indicated that genetically modified (GM) food with agronomic benefits is considered an inferior alternative to unmodified food products, but its direct consumer benefits were considered more desirable. Furthermore, consumer evaluation of biotechnology was largely insensitive to the type of food product. However, the type of gene modification was important for consumers’ evaluation. Using artefactual field experiments, Papers II-IV explore the effect of context on Swedish consumer behaviour in relation to a GM food with direct tangible benefits. Papers II and III examine the interdependency in consumer decision-making, with the focus of Paper III shifting towards satisfaction as the outcome of the decision-making process. Paper II shows that the policy regulations in place had a decisive influence on consumer acceptance and that the policy context itself may induce opposition to GM food. The greatest consumer opposition was found in the most restrictive policy scenarios. The aim of Paper III was to extend the Kano model of satisfaction and use it to assess consumer satisfaction in relation to decisions taken by upstream actors in the food value chain (FVC) with respect to GM food. The findings suggest that both consumer choices and satisfaction were dependent on the degree of unanimous stances adopted by upstream food value chain actors in supporting the GM food product. Actors’ consistent rejection of GM food resulted in lower consumer acceptance of GM food and greater overall satisfaction. In contrast, consumers were more receptive to and satisfied with GM foods when the FVC actors consistently took supportive stances. This suggests that being pro-GM food is probably not a stable trait. In addition, the analysis lent support to a general preference for and higher satisfaction under a mandatory labelling regime. Paper IV explores the role of food policy regulations in cognitive information processing and deliberation of consumers’ own risk responsibility related to GM food, and whether the effect is dependent on the type of risk. The findings suggest that consumers who have health concerns show less willingness to assign responsibility to themselves in situations where GM products are introduced.


decision-making, food choice, biotechnology, context effect, policy, GMO, consumer behaviour, satisfaction, risk perception, risk responsibility

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2017, number: 2017:83
ISBN: 978-91-7760-056-5, eISBN: 978-91-7760-057-2
Publisher: Department of Economics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Business Administration

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