Tuesday, April 22, 2003

GM follies
Using experimental (random nth- price) auctions, the USDA ERS demonstrated that american consumers discount GM-labelled food an average of 14%. The subjects -- from two midwestern cities -- were given different mixtures of pro- (industry), con- (greenpeace), and "scientific" information. The ERS says:
Those who received both pro- and anti-biotech information bid less for the biotech-labeled foods by an average of 16, 24 and 29 percent, depending on the food product. These results are consistent with other studies that show individuals place a greater weight on negative information than on positive information....
Attention "scientists": perhaps participants place a greater weight on more convincing information. Surely you can dig up a study somewhere to demonstrate this phenomenon.
The results also highlight the erratic effect of biotech labeling in the absence of unbiased scientific information. Without scientific information, the bid-price for biotech-labeled foods varied from slightly above that of plain labeled foods to 35 percent below. With scientific information and pro- and anti-biotech information, the price consumers bid for biotech-labeled foods was only slightly below that for plain-labeled foods.
In fact, the study demonstrates that people don't believe anything the biotech industry says. This has got to be an unprecedented PR catastrophe.

See Justin Gillis on the wheat backlash in the Post.

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