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Biotechnology in agriculture

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This paper presents the findings of an empirical work on attitudes towards the application of the gene technology to food production in Italy. It focuses on the importance of perception of risks, benefits and uncertainty in determining general attitude to foods produced by genetic engineering. Also, the role of general attitudes and perceived moral obligation in influencing the expectation of consuming foods produced by gene technology was analysed. A mail survey was organised and 434 subjects completed the questionnaires. The results revealed that more people had unfavourable attitudes towards the application of genetic engineering to food production than favourable. More people indicated low benefits than high, more people reported high risks than low risks. Also, more people agreed that there is high uncertainty about potential consequences by genetic engineering than certainty. The findings of regression analyses showed that the perception of benefits outweighed perception of risks in the impact on general attitudes towards the applications of genetic engineering to food production, whereas the perception of uncertainty contributed marginally to the prediction of attitudes. General attitudes appeared to be an important determinant of the expectation of consuming food produced by genetic engineering.
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Keywords: Biotechnology; Food Industry; Genetic Modification; Risk

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-02-01

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