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“The Effects of Information on Consumer Attitudes Toward Gene-edited Foods: A Comparison Between Livestock and Vegetables”

Presented by Dr. Naoko Kato-Nitta (Japan). Co-authored with Tadahiko Maeda, Yusuke Inagaki, and Masashi Tachikawa.

This study quantitatively examines the effects of a difference in information provision on public’s perceptions on gene-edited food by using an experimental Web survey in Japan. The country had experienced strong opposition to GM crops by consumer groups in the 1990s, and there is no commercial cultivation of GM crops in Japan so far. Given this situation, the Japanese industry, government, and academia have great expectations about the application of gene editing technology to food. The survey was conducted on approximately 4,500 Japanese between the ages of 20 and 69 in March 2018. Before assessing people’s perceptions on gene-edited food, the information provision was made in two types: Plant Group (received explanation with tomato pictures) and Animal Group (received explanation with pig pictures), and each group was randomly allocated. We then measured if the respondents agree/disagree on utilizing gene editing technology on food: increasing the size of livestock/vegetables; making livestock/vegetables more resistant to disease, or increasing the nutritional value of livestock/vegetables. By using those items, we examined if the types of information provision affect peoples’perceptions. Statistical group comparisons using T-test revealed that Plant Group had more negative perceptions than Animal Group toward applying gene editing technology on livestock breeding. On the other hand, there was no statistical difference between the two groups of perceptions toward applying gene editing technology on vegetable breeding. Further, based on the above results, international comparative surveys were made in Japan, Germany and the US in March 2020 by using the same survey materials; therefore, we may also be able to discuss some of the issues with international comparative perspectives at the conference.


Naoko Kato-Nitta received her PhD at the Graduate University for Advanced Studies [Sokendai, Japan] in 2012 and is currently an assistant professor at Joint-Support Center for Data Science Research and the Institute of Statistical Mathematics, Tokyo, Japan. Her current research includes public communication of science, public attitude/behavior toward science and technology, and organizational creativity at scientific research institutions. She is also specialized in quantitative survey methodology and how to assess various facets of peoples’ attitudes toward science and technology. Her recent publications are: Understanding the public, the visitors, and the participants in science communication activities. Public understanding of science, 2018, 27(7), 857-875; Expert and public perceptions of gene-edited crops: attitude changes in relation to scientific knowledge. Palgrave Communications, 2019, 5(1), 1-14.