After more than twenty years of persistent efforts to raise concern over the risk of consuming genetically modified (GM) foods, GM labeling proponents have more recently adopted the themes of: (1) environmental harm, (2) the collusion of big business and government, and (3) the “right to know” if food contains GM ingredients (Lendman, 2015). Proponents of mandatory labeling have been effective in mobilizing supporters around these themes which may influence individual-level support for different GM policy outcomes due to how these themes interact with a person's cultural values. Consequently, we use cultural cognition theory to explore the relationship between cultural worldview and preferences for GM policy. Using a survey, we first examine the effect of cultural worldview on consumers’ preferences for voluntary and mandatory GM labeling programs. Second, using a choice experiment, we explore how cultural worldview influences consumer valuations of and willingness to pay for non-GM and GM food labels. Our results establish a reliable connection between cultural worldview and preferences for GM policy and preferences for GM labeling. As predicted by cultural cognition theory, the most dramatic differences exist between those with relatively egalitarian-communitarian and hierarchical-individualistic worldviews. Egalitarian-communitarians were 42% less likely to support change in the current voluntary approach and 79% more likely to support mandatory labeling than hierarchical-individualists; these individuals were also willing to pay about 67% more to avoid GM foods by purchasing products with a non-GMO label. Although important differences do exist, our research demonstrates that there is common ground and individual attitudes towards labeling can be mediated by cultural worldview.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Sociology and Political Science
- Economics and Econometrics
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law