Skip to main content Accessibility help

‘If labels for GM food were present, would consumers trust them?’ Insights from a consumer survey in Uganda

  • Enoch Mutebi Kikulwe (a1), José Falck-Zepeda (a2) and Justus Wesseler (a3)


Food labelling is costly. Food labelling is often demanded with the introduction of new food products such as genetically modified (GM) food. If consumers do not have trust in the label, scarce resources are wasted. This paper investigates factors affecting the trust in food labels among Ugandan consumers. The results suggest that older, less-educated individuals of smaller household sizes and with trust in government institutions have more trust in food labels. Other factors were also found to be important. The government has to consider those differences in consumer trust when designing a GM labelling policy.



Hide All
Alesina, A. and La Ferrara, E. (2002), ‘Who trusts others?’, Journal of Public Economics 85: 207234.
Anderson, K., Valenzuela, E., and Jackson, L.A. (2008), ‘Recent and prospective adoption of genetically modified cotton: a global computable general equilibrium analysis of economic impacts’, Economic Development and Cultural Change 56(2): 265296.
Bahry, D., Kosolapov, M., Kozyreva, P., and Wilson, R.K. (2005), ‘Ethnicity and trust: evidence from Russia’, American Political Science Review 99(3): 521532.
Bellemare, C. and Kröger, S. (2007), ‘On representative social capital’, European Economic Review 51: 183202.
Botha, G.M. and Viljoen, C.D. (2009), ‘South Africa: a case study for voluntary GM labelling’, Food Chemistry 112(3): 10601064.
Bouët, A. and Gruère, G.P. (2011), ‘Refining opportunity cost estimates of not adopting GM cotton: an application in seven Sub-Saharan African countries’, Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association 33(2): 260279.
Brookes, G. and Barfoot, P. (2012), ‘The income and production effects of biotech crops globally 1996–2010’, GM Crops and Food: Biotechnology in Agriculture and the Food Chain 3(4): 265272.
Cox, J. (2004), ‘How to identify trust and reciprocity’, Games and Economic Behavior 46: 260281.
Eurobarometer (2006), Risk Issues: Executive Summary On Food Safety, Special Eurobarometer 238/Wave 64.1 – TNS Opinion and Social, Brussels: European Commission, [Available at]
Frewer, L.J., Howard, C., Hedderley, D., and Shepherd, R. (1999), ‘Reactions to information about genetic engineering: impact of source of characteristics, perceived personal relevance, and persuasiveness’, Public Understanding of Science 8(1): 3550.
Glaeser, E.L., Laibson, D.I., Scheinkman, J.A., and Soutter, C.L. (2000), ‘Measuring trust’, Quarterly Journal of Economics 115(3): 811846.
Gruère, G.P. and Rao, S.R. (2007), ‘A review of international labelling policies of genetically modified food to evaluate India's proposed rule’, AgBioForum 10(1): 5164.
Gruère, G.P., Carter, C.A., and Farzin, Y.H. (2009), ‘Explaining international differences in genetically modified food labelling policies’, Review of International Economics 17(3): 393408.
Holgado, B., Martinez-Gonzalez, M.A., De Irala-Estevez, J., Gibney, M., Kearney, J., and Martinez, J.A. (2000), ‘Sources of information about diet and health in a Mediterranean country – comparison with other European member states’, European Journal of Public Health 10(3): 185191.
Horna, D., Smale, M., and Falck-Zepeda, J. (2007), ‘Assessing the potential economic impact of genetically modified crops in Ghana’, [Available at]
Huffman, W.E., Rousu, M., Shogren, J.F., and Tegene, A. (2004), ‘Who do consumers trust for information: the case of genetically modified foods?’, American Journal of Agricultural Economics 86(5): 12221229.
Johansson-Stenman, O., Mahmud, M., and Martinsson, P. (in press), ‘Trust, trust games and stated trust: evidence from rural BangladeshJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization; doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2011.06.022.
Karlan, D. (2005), ‘Using experimental economics to measure social capital and predict financial decisions’, American Economic Review 95: 16881699.
Kikulwe, E., Wesseler, J., and Falck-Zepeda, J. (2008), ‘Introducing a genetically modified banana in Uganda: social benefits, costs, and consumer perceptions’, Discussion Paper No. 767, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC.
Kikulwe, E.M., Birol, E., Wesseler, J., and Falck-Zepeda, J. (2011a), ‘A latent class approach to investigating demand for genetically modified banana in Uganda’, Agricultural Economics 42(5): 547560.
Kikulwe, E.M., Wesseler, J., and Falck-Zepeda, J. (2011b), ‘Attitudes, perceptions, and trust: insights from a consumer survey regarding genetically modified banana in Uganda’, Appetite 57(5): 401413.
Knack, S. and Keefer, P. (1997), ‘Does social capital have an economic payoff? A cross-country investigation’, Quarterly Journal of Economics 112(3): 12511288.
Lobb, A., Mazzocchi, M., and Triaill, W. (2007), ‘Modelling risk perception and trust in food safety information with the theory of planned behaviour’, Food Quality and Preference 18: 384395.
Long, J.S. (1997), Regression Models for Categorical and Limited Dependent Variables: Advanced Quantitative Techniques in the Social Sciences, No. 7, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
McLean-Meyinsse, P.E. (2001), ‘An analysis of nutritional label use in the southern United States’, Journal of Food Distribution Research 32(1): 110114.
Moola, S. and Munnik, V. (2007), ‘GMOs in Africa: food and agriculture’, Status Report 2007, Biosafety, Biopiracy and Biopolitics, Series 4, African Centre for Biosafety, Durban, [Available at]
Mosley, P. and Verschoor, A. (2005), ‘The development of trust and social capital in rural Uganda: an experimental approach’, Working Paper, Department of Economics, University of Sheffield, ISSN 1749-8368.
Nayga, R.M. Jr. (1996), ‘Determinants of consumers’ use of nutritional information on food packages’, Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics 28(2): 303312.
Paarlberg, R. (2008), Starved for Science: How Biotechnology is Being Kept Out of Africa, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Phillips, P.W.B and McNeill, H. (2000), ‘A survey of national labelling policies for GM foods’, AgBioForum 3(3): 219224.
Roosen, J., Lusk, J.L., and Fox, J.A. (2003), ‘Consumer demand for and attitudes toward alternative beef labelling strategies in France, Germany and the UK’, Agribusiness 19(1): 7790.
Schechter, L. (2007), ‘Traditional trust measurement and risk of cofound: an experiment in rural Paraguay’, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 62: 7292.
Venus, T. and Wesseler, J. (2012), ‘Bereits doppelt so viel “ohne Gentechni” – Milch als Biomilch in Deutschland: Welche Bedeutung hat GVO – freie Milch für unsere Milchwirtschaft?’, Deutsche Molkerei Zeitung 133(2): 2426.
Wandel, M. (1997), ‘Food labelling from a consumer perspective’, British Food Journal 99(6): 212220.
Wilson, R.K. and Eckel, C.E. (2011), ‘Trust and social exchange’, in Drunckman, J.N., Green, D.P., Kuklinski, J.H., and Lupia, A. (eds), The Handbook of Experimental Political Science, Boston, MA: Cambridge University Press, pp. 243257.
Zerfu, D., Zikhali, P., and Kabenga, I. (2009), ‘Does ethnicity matter for trust? Evidence from Africa’, Journal of African Economies 18(1): 153175.


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed