Investigating factors influencing consumer willingness to buy GM food and nano-food

Chengyan Yue, Shuoli Zhao, Christopher Cummings, Jennifer Kuzma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Emerging technologies applied to food products often evoke controversy about their safety and whether to label foods resulting from their use. As such, it is important to understand the factors that influence consumer desires for labeling and their willingness-to-buy (WTB) these food products. Using data from a national survey with US consumers, this study employs structural equation modeling to explore relationships between potential influences such as trust in government to manage technologies, views on restrictive government policies, perceptions about risks and benefits, and preferences for labeling on consumer’s WTB genetically modified (GM) and nano-food products. Some interesting similarities and differences between GM- and nano-food emerged. For both technologies, trust in governing agencies to manage technologies did not influence labeling preferences, but it did influence attitudes about the food technologies themselves. Attitudes toward the two technologies, as measured by risk–benefit comparisons and comfort with consumption, also greatly influenced views of government restrictive policies, labeling preferences, and WTB GM or nano-food products. For differences, labeling preferences were found to influence WTB nano-foods, but not WTB GM foods. Gender and religiosity also had varying effects on WTB and labeling preferences: while gender and religiosity influenced labeling preferences and WTB for GM foods, they did not have a significant influence for nano-foods. We propose some reasons for these differences, such as greater media attention and other heuristics such as value-based concerns about “modifying life” with GM foods. The results of this study can help to inform policies and communication about the application of these new technologies in food products.

Original languageEnglish
Article number283
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the USDA Grant NIFA 2012-70002-19403 awarded to the Food Policy Research Center of the University of Minnesota, and in part, by the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at North Carolina State University. All opinions are of the authors and not the USDA-FPRC or GES center. The authors would like to thank Jonathan Brown, Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota, for early assistance in helping to develop the survey instrument.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Food
  • GM
  • Labelling
  • Nanotechnology
  • Structural equation modeling
  • Willingness to buy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Chemistry (all)
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Materials Science (all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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