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Reference: Role of information in consumers’ preferences for eco-sustainable genetic improvements in plant breeding
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Consumers’ preferences for products derived from genetic improvements and innovations in plant breeding are often conditioned by technophobia and negative public imaginaries. The current study addresses this issue by analyzing consumers’ monetary preferences for a win-win innovation (generating gains for both private actors and the community) in the viticulture sector, namely fungus resistant grapes (FRG). The use of these grapes reduces the quantity of chemical inputs applied to vineyards, simultaneously improving firms’ economic performance. This study aimed to assess whether consumers prefer wines originating from FRG varieties to conventional wines. In particular, through an experimental online survey involving 627 Italian regular wine drinkers, the study compares individuals’ willingness to pay (WTP) for conventional wines with the WTP for two FRG wines produced with two different techniques: horticultural hybridization and genome editing. The study also assesses the potential effect of polarized media coverage on preferences by testing, in a between-subjects experimental design, two diverging (positive/negative) information scenarios, and the core drivers of these preferences. The findings suggest that respondents express a premium price for horticultural FRG wines compared to conventional wines (+9.14%) and a strong discount for genome edited FRG wines (–21.13%). The results also reveal that negative information reduces consumers’ WTP for horticultural FRG wines, while positive information increases their WTP for genome edited FRG wines. Last, the study highlights that individuals concerned with food sustainability issues and knowledgeable about wine are more likely to accept both FRG typologies. Overall, the study confirms the crucial role of appropriate information for market acceptance of innovations based on plant genetics to foster the adoption of sustainable pest-reducing practices in wine production.

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Publication Details

Published: 2021
Publication: PLOS One
Issue: 2021 16-7-e0255130
Author: Borrello M 2021

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