L’Europa apre agli OGM

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L’Europa apre agli OGM

L’Europa apre agli OGM

08 Ottobre 2007

Il Corriere della Sera del 3
ottobre 2007 ci presenta uno scenario di apertura europea verso le colture GM
(o biotecnologiche) che sembra andare
al di là della campagna di demonizzazione che imperversa su di esse. Ma i
consumatori come percepiscono questi cambiamenti? In un recente articolo
pubblicato su Nature Biotechnology un gruppo di ricercatori ha cercato di dare
una interpretazione obiettiva del feeling
dei consumatori europei, seguendo un approccio scientifico. Sono state presentate
ai consumatori di sei Paesi (Belgio, Nuova Zelanda, Francia, Svezia, Germania e
%0AGran Bretagna), tre tipologie di frutta etichettata con la dicitura
“biologico”, “convenzionale”o “GM – non trattato con prodotti chimici”. I
risultati della ricerca sono stati sorprendenti. Nonostante le campagne anti-OGM
abbiano contribuito a diffondere timori ed allarmismi, sembra che i consumatori
di paesi europei quali Germania, Svezia, Francia e Gran Bretagna,  siano disposti ad utilizzare alimenti GM
qualora questi costino meno degli altri ed apportino benefici, come quelli che
possono derivare dal non-utilizzo di prodotti trattati chimicamente
(convenzionali). Riportiamo di seguito un estratto dell’articolo.

Nature Biotechnology 25, 507 – 508 (2007)
Acceptance of GM food—an
experiment in six countries

Estratto dall’articolo di JG Knight et al.  

modified (GM) foods have generated intensely negative consumer attitudes in
many countries, particularly in Europe1, 2.
Several expert reviews indicate that safety concerns regarding GM foods appear
largely unfounded3, 4,
but expert opinions have been insufficient to greatly change public sentiment1, 5.
Even so, antipathy toward the concept of genetic modification will not
necessarily translate into consumer resistance to such foods once introduced
into the market.

experiments reported here were undertaken to determine how consumers in a range
of countries with highly negative public perceptions of GM technology might
react toward GM food products that offer clearly stated consumer benefits if
introduced into their markets. Classic economic theory postulates that
consumers seek to maximize self-interest in the presence of pecuniary or other
Ample evidence exists that consumer attitudes, and even stated behavioral
intentions, may not translate into purchase behavior7, 8.

We set up
real roadside fruit stalls based on a choice modeling experimental design.
Experimental choice modeling has been widely used as a method for determining
behavior based on subjects making choices from sets of product options put
before them9.
What makes our study highly novel is that the choices were real in a genuine
shopping situation, rather than being made under circumstances where the
subjects knew that their choices were being observed. Our intention was to
minimize the possibility of social desirability bias10
influencing the results.

placed on sale conventional fruit labeled as ‘organic’, ‘spray-free genetically
modified’, or ‘conventional’, or appropriate translations of same in the
prevalent local language at each site, at varying price levels. The price for
each fruit category was set at one of three levels: the median market price in
that locality, median plus 15% or median minus 15%. A parsimonious main effects
balanced fractional factorial design was used to generate nine price and fruit
offerings. Research assistants fluent in the local language operated the
stalls, which were set up on the outskirts of urban areas in New Zealand
(Queenstown), Sweden (Ystad, Skåne), Belgium (near Brussels), France (Paris),
Germany (Koblenz, Rheinland-Pfalz) and the UK (Berwick-upon-Tweed) […]

A total of
2,736 consumers visited the fruit-stall experiments in the six different
countries. […]. Further details of the analysis method are provided elsewhere11.
The fruit stall findings across the six countries showed the spray-free GM
option gained a 21% market share on average (range: 17–27%), when all fruit
types were sold at the prevailing market price. Market-share estimates based
upon prevailing market prices, found a similar pattern across the six countries
for the three fruit types. This pattern consisted of the organic produce
gaining the largest market share, followed by conventionally grown fruit, with
the spray free-GM product gaining the smallest market share.

the pricing scenario that we consider most likely would be organic produce sold
at a premium, with a discount offered for the spray free-GM option, given its
lower cost of inputs. Market-share estimates based on this pricing scenario
found market shares changing both by product type and by country location of
the fruit stall. Organic produce lost market share in all countries, except Belgium, where
it still dominated. By comparison, the spray free-GM fruit gained the highest
market share in the New Zealand,
Swedish and German stalls, and reached 30% or more in the UK and French stalls.

conclusion, this research revealed that a significant (and in some markets,
surprisingly high) percentage of consumers in European countries appear willing
to choose GM food provided there is a price advantage coupled with a consumer
benefit (in this case, ‘spray-free’ status). Our findings are in line with the
proposition of classical economic theory that consumers will seek to maximize
They are also consistent with data from the latest Eurobarometer report1.
Although “strong opposition” to the overall concept of GM foods
technology was reported, when Eurobarometer respondents were asked whether they
would buy GM food “if it contained less pesticide residues than other
food,” 18% indicated “yes, definitely” and 33% indicated
“yes, probably.” When asked whether they would buy GM food “if
it were cheaper than other foods,” 12%25 indicated “yes, definitely”
and 24% indicated “yes, probably”1.
Our revealed preference findings are broadly consistent with these recent
Eurobarometer data.

Caution is
needed in interpreting these findings on a country-by-country basis;
extrapolating uncritically from behavior observed at a single purchasing
location to everywhere within that country is not realistic. Furthermore, not
all consumers would be in the habit of stopping at roadside stalls to purchase
fruit. Nevertheless, in aggregate these findings represent a very substantial
sample of consumers spread through six countries in which the GM issue has
reached high levels of awareness and controversy. The findings are indicative,
and it would not be prudent to base either policy or commercial decisions upon
them without further research. The results imply that GM food may prove much
more acceptable than has been previously widely stated, provided there is full
information availability and clear statements of consumer benefits.


  1. Gaskell, G. et al. Europeans
    and Biotechnology in 2005: Patterns and Trends
    : Eurobarometer 64.3
    (European Commission, Brussels,
    2006). Laros, F. & Steenkamp, J.-B.E.M. Psychology Marketing 21,
    889–908 (2004).
  2. King, D. GM Science Review:
    First Report (The GM Science Review Panel, London, UK,
  3. Konig, A., Kleter, G., Hammes, W., Knudsen, I. &
    Kuiper, H. ENTRANSFOOD. Genetically Modified Crops in the EU: Food Safety
    Assessment, Regulation, and Public Concerns (EC Directorate General for Research, Brussels, Belgium,
  4. Pardo, R. & Calvo, F. Nat.
    Biotechnol. 24, 393–395 (2006). | Article | PubMed | ChemPort |
  5. <http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/2000/mcfadden-lecture.pdf>
  6. Belk, R. Res. Consumer
    Behav. 1, 1–34 (1985).
  7. Chandon, P., Morwitz, V. & Reinartz, W. J. Marketing 69,
    1–14 (2005). | Article |
  8. Louviere, J. & Woodworth, G. J. Marketing Res. 20,
    350–367 (1983). | Article |
  9. Fisher, R.J. J. Consumer
    Res. 20, 303–315 (1993). | Article |
  10. Mather, D. W., Knight, J.G. & Holdsworth, D.K. J. Product Brand Manag. 14, 387–392 (2005).
  11. Shao, J. & Tu, D. The
    Jackknife and Bootstrap (Springer, New York, USA, 1995).