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NANOTECHNOLOGY IN THE FOOD CHAIN - Favv

NANOTECHNOLOGY IN THE FOOD CHAIN - Favv

136 or the European

136 or the European joint action "Nanogenotox") or for the implementation of new regulations (REACH).

Consumer’s attitudes towards nanotechnology and other food technologies in Catalonia Elena Espeitx Bernat, Juanjo Cáceres Nevot & Gloria Cugat i Pujol ANSOAP; ANSOAP; Catalana Food Safety Agency (ACSA) E-mail: espeitx@ansoap.info; caceres@ansoap.info; gloria.cugat@gencat.cat Understanding emerging trends in public perceptions on nanotechnology applications in food production is important in order to know its acceptability among consumers. The present study reports attitudes towards food applications of nanotechnology in connection with the acceptability of various new food technologies. We have used a qualitative research approach in order to investigate the factors that may contribute to accept or refuse certain new food technologies in Catalonia (Spain): genetically modified foods, highpressure processing and nanotechnology. Focus groups were conducted with forty-eight consumers recruited from Catalonia. The analyses revealed that perceptions on nanotechnology and other technologies are generated with low knowledge. Subjective knowledge is shown to be an important factor in explaining attitudes. Public controversies about technologies appear as a negative factor of acceptability. As other studies report, consumers rely on cognitive shortcuts or heuristics to make sense of issues on which they have low levels of knowledge. Also, general attitudes concerning food production, science and technology have a strong impact on public attitudes about nanotechnology and genetically modified organisms and trust in institutions appears as a positive factor for consumer confidence. However, when risk perception exists, these technologies are only accepted if perceived as necessary to solve any problem or to obtain any benefits. The results show that information about nanotechnologies in Catalonia is lower compared to other technologies and controversy about them is not observed. As a result, public perception of food production is not influenced by nanotechnology. Most of the consumers are confident about its benefits but more research is expected. However, food applications raise fear among consumers concerned on food production, and analogies with genetically 137

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