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(3) Public understanding of technology and innovation

Technological innovations based on new technology platforms are needed to cope with increasing demand and the need for a more sustainable food supply on a global scale. At the same time, technology acceptance in the food sector is very low among European, and especially German consumers, retailers and food processors. This raises the question of whether certain product and process qualities (e.g. health-promoting properties) of food products are able to increase the acceptability of novel technologies across the food chain. In this regard, greater understanding of both consumer awareness of product attributes (often credence attributes) and the dimensions of risk perception are specifically important for the acceptance of novel technologies. Taking the example of biofortification, the tendency to focus on food producers results in there being little known about the decision-making processes of farmers, food processors, and retailers. This creates a sizable ‘blind spot’ in the understanding of the opportunities and barriers for the adoption and implementation of food innovations. More generally, we focus on research questions such as:

  • Does risk perception of green biotechnology depend on the type of product end-use?
  • What drives farmer adoption of novel kinds of fertilizers?
  • How do consumers perceive functional ingredients (e.g. antioxidants) derived from agricultural by-products?
  • How can the framing of information, for instance through evaluative conditioning, affect the (dis)liking of novel technologies such as synthetic biology?

By pursuing such questions through suitable methods, we thereby contribute to the appreciation and understanding of acceptance and adoption of new technologies across the value chain.