Importance of fear in the case of genetically modified food



Fear appeals concerning genetically modified food (GMF) frequently appear in the mass media. They have played a crucial role in creating widespread fear of GMF (also known as “Frankenstein food” among the fearful) in a large part of the world. The present study validates a scale to measure consumers' fear of GMF and shows that Dutch consumers feel significantly more fearful of GMF than of other new food types. There are no strong relations between consumers' sociodemographic makeup and fear of GMF, indicating that fear of this technologically new type of food is an emotion that cuts across society. Fear of GMF is positively influenced by consumers' concern for the environment and negatively affected by their faith in technology in food production. Consumers who are more fearful of GMF have a more negative attitude toward genetically modified food and toward genetic modification of animals, and exhibit a greater interest in information related to food production. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.