Exploration of public perception of nanotechnology food products and their labeling has been limited thus far. Labeling perceptions in particular have been analyzed in few contexts, none of which focused on food labeling using a conversational setting. A significant research gap thus exists, especially as nanotechnology food product development rapidly expands. Seven focus groups were hosted in six U.S. cities in order to analyze public perception of food nanotechnology and labeling in dialogue settings. Key research issues for this analysis dealt with identifying the main themes present during the labeling topic portion of each focus group and the resulting implications for nanotechnology food product labeling policy. Focus group data were analyzed by coding statements across numerous themes and selecting main themes based on occurrence frequency. In-group worksheets and post-group surveys were also administered covering a range of nanotechnology food topics and were descriptively analyzed. Content analysis results, in conjunction with worksheet and post-survey data, reveal the public wants labeling but acknowledge that a label is not of much use unless nanotechnology education or outreach is conducted. Additionally, while most participants viewed labels from a risk information and consumer choice standpoint, no consensus was reached for the ideal content and characteristics of a nanotechnology label. An array of major themes, both directly related and unrelated to labeling, emerged during the labeling phase including perceived label purpose, consumer choice perception, regulation perception, skepticism, trust, and risk, among many others. These insights from conversational settings provide an important step in considering the complexities of public perception as they apply to crafting effective policy surrounding nanotechnology food products.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. May 2012. Major: Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy. Advisor: Jennifer Kuzma. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 90 pages, appendices A-D.
Brown, Jonathan M..
Hungry for Information: Exploring Public Perception of nanotechnology food product labeling using conversational settings.
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