Determination of the role of heuristics in information processing associated with different food-related applications of nanotechnology
04 / 2007 - 08 / 2012
The way in which the public conceptualise different applications of food technology is driven by perceptions of risk and benefit associated with particular applications or production methods. Effective risk-benefit communication is also contingent on `societal trust' in regulators, regulatory institutions, industry and other food chain actors. Perceptions of risk and benefit associated with different applications of nanotechnology may have a direct influence on consumer acceptance of specific products. The occurrence of various food safety incidents, many of which have had international and national consequences for quality of life and economic functioning, has highlighted the need to develop and maintain public confidence in the safety of food and in the management of emerging food technologies. A case in point is the negative public reactions to genetic modification in the agrifood sectors, which have had important consequences for commercialisation of the technology as well as international food risk governance. The overall objective of the research is to optimise public and stakeholder trust and confidence in food nanotechnology risk-benefit analysis, through developing knowledge which explicitly informs understanding of the determinants of consumer decision-making associated with the development and application of nanotechnology. In particular, the research will explore how attitudes towards nanotechnology may be shaped by perceptions of potential risks and benefits. To date, most theoretical advances in this area have been related to understanding consumer risk perceptions and their determinants. Developing effective communication about emerging agri-food technologies is contingent on understanding how consumers utilise risk-benefit information when processing information.