Determining the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices of the adult consumer in the City of Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, regarding the inclusion of genetically modified foods in the diet

Jonker, Kari (2017-03)

Thesis (MNutr)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Introduction: South Africa (SA) is the ninth largest producer of genetically modified (GM) foods in the world, and the only country to genetically modify one of its staple foods, maize meal. Despite the consumer being one of the major stakeholders in the long-term success of this technology, very little research has been done within SA on the stance of the consumer regarding GM foods. Objectives: To determine 1) the level of knowledge of the adult consumer regarding GM foods and genetic engineering, 2) the attitudes, beliefs and practices relating to genetic engineering and GM foods in the diet, and 3) whether there are any differences in the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices according to consumer characteristics such as gender, age, education level and income. Study Design: An observational, descriptive study design, with an analytical component. A mixed-methods approach was employed, with Phase One being in the quantitative domain, and Phase Two in the qualitative domain. Methods: For the quantitative phase, consumers (n=200) were recruited from eight grocery stores across the City of Cape Town (CoCT). Data on demographics, knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices was collected using a researcher-administered questionnaire. Qualitative data was collected by means of five focus-group discussions (FGDs) (n=36) conducted across the CoCT. Results: The overall knowledge score of participants was 43,6%, with a statistically significant correlation between education level and the achieved knowledge score (p<0,01). Overall, participants were found to have a more negative attitude towards GM foods, which was also evident in the FGDs. Both an increased knowledge score (p<0,01) and a higher level of education (p<0,01) correlated with having a more negative attitude towards GM foods. The majority of participants were of the opinion that GM foods were acceptable when developed to improve the nutritional value of foods (70,0%), and to increase food availability (75,5%), with food insecurity, an increasing population and drought conditions being raised in the FGDs. Concerns about the long-term health (74,5%) and environmental (74,5%) effects were raised during both Phase One and Two. There was a definite preference for non-GM foods (78,0%), which dropped to just over half when GM foods were offered at a better price (53,5%). Participants were of the opinion that consumers benefited the least from having GM foods available in SA. The vast majority felt strongly that GM foods should be labelled (97,5%) and the public consulted before the release of GM foods (92,5%). A more positive attitude towards GM foods significantly decreased the likelihood of reading food labels (p<0,01). Conclusion: Campaigns to improve consumer awareness on GM foods within SA need to be strengthened and monitored for effectiveness, and the public should be included in any further decision making. Public concerns regarding the safety and sustainability of GM foods should be addressed through long-term research studies, and these results should be made available to consumers in an understandable manner. The implementation and monitoring of food labelling regulations indicating the GM status of foods are pivotal to consumers being able to make informed choices.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Inleiding: Suid-Afrika (SA) is die negende grootste produsent van geneties gemanipuleerde (GM) voedsel ter wêreld, en die enigste land wat een van die stapelvoedsels - mieliemeel - geneties modifiseer. Baie min navorsing is in die land gedoen oor die mening van verbruikers ten opsigte van GM voedsel, ten spyte daarvan dat die verbruiker een van die belangrikste belanghebbers is in die langtermyn sukses van hierdie tegnologie. Doelwitte: Om te bepaal 1) wat die kennisvlak van die volwasse verbruiker is oor GM voedsel en genetiese manipulasie, 2) wat die gesindhede, oortuigings en praktyke oor genetiese manipulasie en GM voedsel in die dieet is, en 3) of daar enige verskillle is in die kennis, gesindhede, oortuigings en praktyke wat verband hou met verbruikerskenmerke soos geslag, ouderdom, opvoedkundige vlak en inkomste. Studie-ontwerp: ‘n Waarnemende, beskrywende studie-ontwerp met ‘n analitiese komponent. ‘n Kombinasie-aanslag is gevolg met Fase Een in die kwantitatiewe en Fase Twee in die kwalitatiewe domein. Metodes: Vir die kwantitatiewe fase is verbruikers (n=200) by agt kruidenierswinkels in Stad Kaapstad gewerf. ‘n Navorser-geadministreerde vraelys is gebruik om data oor demografie, kennis, gesindhede, oortuigings en praktyke in te samel. Kwalitatiewe data is ingesamel deur middel van vyf fokusgroep-besprekings (FGBs) (n=36) gedoen regoor die Stad Kaapstad. Resultate: Die oorhoofse kennis-telling van deelnemers was 43,6%, met ‘n statisties beduidende korrelasie tussen opvoedkundige vlak en die kennis-telling behaal (p<0,01). Oorhoofs is bevind dat deelnemers ‘n meer negatiewe gesindheid teenoor GM voedsel het, en hierdie resultaat het ook uit die FGBs geblyk. ‘n Verhoogde kennistelling (p<0,01), sowel as ‘n hoër vlak van opvoeding (p<0,01) korreleer met ‘n meer negatiewe houding teenoor GM voedsel. Die meerderheid deelnemers het gevoel dat GM voedsel aanvaarbaar sou wees as dit die voedingswaarde (70,0%) of die beskikbaarheid van voedsel sou verhoog (75,5%) terwyl voedsel-onsekerheid, ‘n verhoogde bevolking en droogtetoestande in die FGBs geopper is. Kommer is in beide Fase Een en Twee uitgespreek oor langtermyn gesondheid (74,5%) en die impak op die omgewing (74,5%). Daar was ‘n duidelike voorkeur vir nie-GM voedsel (78,0%), maar hierdie persentasie het gedaal tot net oor die helfte (53,5%) wanneer GM voedsel teen ‘n beter prys aangebied sou word. Deelnemers was van mening dat verbruikers die minste baatvind by die beskikbaarheid van GM voedsel in SA. Die oorgrote meerderheid voel sterk daaroor dat GM voedsel op etikette aangedui moet word (97,5%) en dat die publiek geraadpleeg word voor die vrystelling van GM voedsel (92,5%). ’n Meer positiewe gesindheid teenoor GM voedsel het die waarskynlikheid dat voedsel-etikette gelees word, aansienlik verminder (p<0,01). Gevolgtrekking: Veldtogte om verbruikersbewustheid oor GM voedsel in SA te verbeter moet versterk en gemonitor word vir effektiwiteit, en die publiek behoort by verdere besluitneming betrek te word. Publieke kommer rakende die veiligheid en volhoubaarheid van GM voedsel moet deur langtermyn-navorsing aangespreek word, en hierdie resultate moet op ‘n verstaanbare wyse aan verbruikers beskikbaar gestel word. Die implementering en monitering van regulasies insake voedsel-etikettering wat die GMstatus van voedselprodukte aandui, is van kernbelang om verbruikers instaat te stel om ingeligte keuses uit te oefen.

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