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Are perceptions of 'risks' and 'benefits' of genetically modified food (in)dependent?

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Although previous research has revealed evidence of European Union (EU) citizens’ sceptical attitudes towards genetically modified food, there has been a limited focus on how individuals learn about the risks and benefits of GM food, along with the influence of information sources on the formation of both risk and benefits perceptions. Following a rational learning model, we examine the determinants of risk and benefit perceptions. In doing so, we hypothesize that risk and benefits perceptions are an expression of a latent and unobserved variable and thus we test whether perceptions of risk and benefits are simultaneously determined. We employ a UK sample of the Eurobarometer survey 52.1 for 1999 and we employ several model specifications that account for simultaneity and endogeneity, such as the two-stage least squares (2SLS) and the three-stage least square (3SLS) regressions. Our results indicate that risks and benefits perceptions are not independent and appear both endogenously and simultaneously determined. Furthermore, the impact of information determinants for risks and benefit learning processes are specification dependant.

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