Do consumers care how a genetically engineered food was created or who created it?

That's the tile of a new paper I co-authored with Brandon McFadden at University of Florida and Norbert Wilson at Tufts that was just released in a special issue of Food Policy, which is focused on genetically engineered food (aka GMOs).

In some ways, our paper is like three papers smushed into one: we tie several analyses together under one theme.  Here's part of the motivation:

heterogeneity [in preference] across products or breeding technologies rather than people is important because a “GMO” is not a single thing, but rather represents a class of many possible foods and technologies that could have been created for many different reasons by different innovators. The ever-changing capability to modify genomes in new ways requires asking new questions. Understanding consumer reactions to different GE foods, technologies, and innovators is increasingly important as new technologies such as CRISPR or gene editing have
emerged which avoid transgenic manipulations. Additionally, new start-ups and non-profits have entered the space with new products that differ from those commercialized by large agribusinesses

In addition to documenting whether concern for GMOs has increased over time (answer: they haven't), we study whether:

(1) certain kinds of GE foods or plant breeding technologies are more acceptable to consumers, (2) consumers prefer that all biotech applications applied to food be regulated identically, and (3) preferences for GE food depend on the innovator.

We find that people are most supportive of regulations that focus on the outcomes from plant breeding rather than focusing on the particulars of which breeding method was used.  We also find that support or opposition to a GMO depends on who created the GMO.  Finally, concerns about the safety of GMOs are related to consumers' perceptions of who benefits from the GMO.  Here's one of the key figures.