Which biotech foods are most acceptable to the public?

That's the title of a paper I just published in the Biotechnology Journal with Brandon McFadden and Brad Rickard.  

Based on a survey of over 1,000 US consumers, we sought to determine which types of foods or biotechnology applications might be most acceptable.  

Respondents were asked, on a 7-point scale, to indicate how desirable (i.e., 1 = very undesirable to 7 = very desirable) it would be to eat six foods strategically selected to vary by product type (i.e., apple, corn, and beef) and degree of processing (i.e., fresh and processed): apples, apple juice, corn on the cob, corn chips, beef steak, and beef hotdog. The question was then repeated except each food was identified as being GE: genetically engineered apple, apple juice made from genetically engineered apples, etc. Of interest is the change in the desirability of each food product as it moves from a GE to a non-GE form, and whether the change in desirability systematically relates to product type and degree or processing. 

Here's what we found.

We write:

when foods were not GE, fresh was preferred over processed and beef products were preferred over corn and apple products. . . . [W]hen products were GE, respondents continued to prefer fresh to processed (although not nearly as much as when non-GE), but now respondents prefer corn and apples to beef, indicating a preference reversal. . . . The results indicate that adding “GE” causes a larger drop in desirability for fresh than processed food and also caused a larger drop in the desirability of meat relative to corn and apples. Thus, not only does GE change the overall desirability . . . , it changes the relative ranking of products, with larger penalties associated with being GE assigned to fresh food and meat.

We also asked consumers how desirable or undesirable different reasons for genetic modification were.  All the reasons had a mean score above 4 (on a scale of 1 to 7), meaning they were more desirable than not.  Here the results for each issue.