Date of Graduation

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Advisor

Michael Popp

Committee Member

Rodolfo M. Nayga, Jr

Second Committee Member

Jennie Popp

Third Committee Member

Pengyin Chen

Fourth Committee Member

Han-Seok Seo

Keywords

Social sciences; Edamame; Experimental auction; Tobit model; Willingness to pay

Abstract

This study examined the effect of GM labeling on consumer willingness to pay (WTP) for edamame. It also investigated how people reacted to different messages and whether the order of receiving positive or negative information about GM technology impacted their willingness to pay (WTP). The study had three components: (1) a sensory test of GM and non-GM labeled products; (2) a non-hypothetical experimental auction to assess WTP for GM, non-GM and unlabeled products; and (3) a questionnaire to collect demographics and other information from the participants. Results of the sensory evaluation revealed no statistically significant difference between GM and non-GM edamame in terms of aroma, taste, appearance, texture and overall impression with GM edamame rated slightly higher in three of the five sensory categories. Despite no differences in these sensory attributes between GM and non-GM edamame, there was a statistically significant and large premium for non-GM edamame over the GM and unlabeled edamame products. Further, WTP for unlabeled and GM edamame were similar suggesting existence of preconceived negative notions about GM edamame. The estimated discounts for GM edamame therefore do not support GM breeding efforts for edamame at this time. Overwhelmingly, negative information about GM technology had a large negative, statistically significant impact on WTP that could not be reversed with smaller positive GM technology information effects on WTP regardless of order of information provided. However, modifying the opinion about GM technology also had a large statistically significant effect on WTP. With responses on knowledge about GM technology suggesting a poor understanding of GM technology, it may well be fruitful to educate consumers to sway their opinion toward greater GM acceptability. Targeting this message to female and younger population demographics was supported as WTP for GM edamame by women was statistically significantly lower than WTP for GM edamame by men. By the same token WTP for GM edamame declined statistically significantly with age suggesting that younger consumers may be more accepting of GM technology than older buyers.

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