Neophobia: The psychological barrier that inspires knee-jerk rejection of GMOs and other food technology

march against monsanto vancouver rosaleeyagihara
Credit: Rosalee Yagihara/Wikimedia

Psychologist Michael Siegrist and nutrition scientist Christina Hartmann have compiled research on the psychological and societal factors that influence consumer acceptance of food technologies. According to a 2015 survey of more than 30,000 consumers, the most desirable food attributes are ‘freshness’, ‘naturalness’ and ‘minimal processing’… ‘Many consumers perceive the use of food technologies as contradictory to healthy, nutritious food, which may be a challenge for the industry,’ says Siegrist.

Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

When scaled up, lab-grown meat may offer a more sustainable and animal-friendly alternative to livestock rearing. But, once again, a 2018 survey showed that the public isn’t quite ready for it. Survey respondents had a low understanding of the technology and a low level of acceptance. When the production process was explained to them, it actually reinforced the acceptance of traditionally reared meat.

Related article:  Gene-edited foods are coming, but how will they be regulated, and will consumers eat them?

‘Cultured meat evokes a “disgust” response in many people because it’s perceived as artificial,’ says Siegrist. He adds that evolutionary psychology might help to explain this. ‘Instead of relying only on our immune system to fight infections in our body, our behavioural immune system has evolved to evoke a feeling of disgust or a “neophobic response” to unknown foods that may have harmed us in the past. The very same behavioural constructs may be impacting people’s willingness to accept novel food technologies in the modern day.’

Read the original post

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend