CONSUMER ACCEPTANCE OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS IN KENYA
The production and consumption of genetically modified (GM) foods has raised public concern about their possible risks to consumers. Debates on whether to accept GM foods are still unresolved in many parts of the world. This study assessed consumer’s willingness to consume GM foods using constructs from the theory of planned behavior. Based on the theory, the study used a sample of 90 food consumers in Juja, Kenya to analyse the influence of norms, attitudes and perceived behavioral control on the intention to consume GM foods. The descriptive analysis showed that 93% of respondent had heard about GM foods indicating a high level of awareness. However, the intention to consume GM foods was low at 28.2 percent. The results of the probit model showed that younger consumers and male respondents were more likely to accept GM foods. Further, while family members and friends would have a strong influence to consume GM foods, political leaders would have a negative influence. The other reference groups (religious leaders and health workers) were found not be important in influencing intention to consume GM foods. In addition, negative attitudes around risks to health and environment would discourage acceptance of GM foods. Similarly perceptions that production of GM ‘plays God’ would have a negative influence on the intention to consume GM foods. The study findings suggest that addressing health, environmental and religious concerns is going to be critical in enhancing the acceptance of GM foods.