More than half of consumers surveyed in a consumer research study said they have never heard of gene editing. That was one finding of the study conducted by the FMI Foundation in partnership with the American Seed Trade Association, American Farm Bureau Federation and Farm Foundation.
The nationwide survey of nearly 5,000 food shoppers examined U.S. consumers beliefs, awareness and understanding of gene editing in food and agriculture, and their willingness to pay for gene-edited foods as it pertains to fresh and processed vegetables and meat. Respondents chose between products depicted to be organic, non-GMO, bioengineered, conventional, or gene edited.
Despite limited awareness of gene editing, most consumers surveyed said they still value having the option to buy gene-edited foods. Consumers also said they are more willing to purchase gene-edited foods when they know the specific benefits to the consumer, the environment and animal health.
When consumers are informed of the benefits of gene editing, market potential for gene-edited products exceeds 15%, according to the study.
“Gene editing, as a plant and animal breeding technique, is a relatively new food technology, so we believed it was important to establish a baseline for consumer understanding and how that level of understanding impacts purchasing decisions,” stated Leslie Sarasin, FMI president and CEO. “We know from experience that new technologies can initially cause consumer confusion, so it is our hope that these research results serve as a path forward for the food and agriculture industries to collaborate and facilitate a better understanding and a common language around gene-edited products.”
The FMI Foundation spearheaded the research as part of its Unified Voice Protocol (UVP) initiative that is designed to bring together key stakeholders on emerging issues impacting consumer trust. This is the second pilot project under the UVP.