Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(20), 7700; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17207700 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2020
Most studies exploring the public acceptance of genetically modified food (GMF) are based on social trust and the establishment of a causal model. The underlying premise is that social trust indirectly affects public acceptance of GMF through perceived risks and perceived benefits. The [...] Read more.
Most studies exploring the public acceptance of genetically modified food (GMF) are based on social trust and the establishment of a causal model. The underlying premise is that social trust indirectly affects public acceptance of GMF through perceived risks and perceived benefits. The object of social trust is trust in people, organizations, and institutions. Different from the social trust, epistemic trust refers to people’s trust in scientific knowledge behind the technology of concern. It has been shown that epistemic trust, like social trust, is also an important factor that affects the public perception of applicable risks and benefits. Therefore, it is necessary to incorporate epistemic trust into the causal model to derive a more complete explanation of public acceptance. However, such work has not been conducted to date. The causal model proposed in this paper integrated epistemic trust and social trust and divided social trust into trust in public organizations and trust in industrial organizations. A representative questionnaire survey (N = 1091) was conducted with Chinese adults. The model was analyzed by the partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) method. Three major findings were obtained: First, epistemic trust is an important antecedent of perceived risks and perceived benefits and exerts a significant indirect effect on the acceptance of GMF. Secondly, trust in industrial organizations negatively impacts perceived risks, while trust in public organizations positively impacts perceived benefits. Thirdly, contrary to the common opinion, trust in industrial organizations did not exert a significant direct effect on perceived benefits, and trust in public organizations did not demonstrate a significant direct effect on perceived risks. Therefore, trust in industrial organizations and trust in public organizations utilize different influence paths on GMF acceptance. This study enriches the understanding of the influence path of trust with regard to the acceptance of emerging technologies and is of great significance to relevant risk-management practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Safety, Security, Sustainability and Nutrition as Priority Objectives of the Food Sector)