Richard J. Roberts

CSO New England Biolabs

Combatting hunger and climate change with biotechnology

Richard J. Roberts, CSO New England Biolabs

As the earth warms and its population rises there is an urgent need for technical solutions to tackle both. Fortunately, improvements in plant and agricultural techniques can be extremely helpful, both in improving crop yield and helping to mitigate CO2 and CH4 emissions and increasing yields.  Already we have seen many ways in which biotechnology can improve the productivity of plants by incorporating pest resistance genes and improving their nutritional value.

The main problem at the moment is the non-scientific disdain afforded GMOs, by the so-called green movements The political interference they have caused has led to ridiculously stiff regulations governing the introduction of GM crops. I will present examples of both current and potential improvements that are within reach. One thing is very clear.  Europe will need these improved crops and the political influence of non-scientists needs to cease, if the whole world is to benefit from biotechnology in the way they benefitted from its application to vaccine production during the COVID-19 crisis.

Jutta Roosen

Chair of Marketing and Consumer Research

Technical University Munich

Attention-driven Food Choice for Healthier Cereal Options

Jutta Roosen, Herdis Agovis, Christina Neubig, Matthias Staudigel

Abstract: Various policy efforts try to improve the formulation of ready-to-eat food productions. In Germany, the Reduction and Innovation-Strategy aims to reduce the content of fat, salt and sugar. Among others, the industry pledged to reduce by 20% the sugar content in cereals marketed to children. In this study, we aim to understand consumer preferences for breakfast cereals (muesli). The study considers brand, type (chocolate, knusper, fruit) and various Front-of-Package labels. In a hypothetical online choice experiment consumers had to choose between 24 different types of cereals. In addition, attentional bias was measured using a dot-probe task as was liking and explicit associations with sensory properties using a Check-All-That-Apply (CATA) test. Words describing the sensory properties came from focus groups with 20 consumers evaluating 10 specific cereals. Multinomial and random parameter logit models are used to identify the influence of extrinsic attributes, attentional bias and explicit product associations on product choice.

Richard J. Sexton

University of California, Davis

Implications of the Increasing Importance of Credence Attributes in the Food Supply Chain

Abstract: This presentation will assess the implications of the rapidly rising market shares for foods with credence attributes that involve claims regarding animal welfare, fairness of marketing arrangements, and environmental benefits, among others. Most credence attributes, however, are associated with lower yields than conventional alternatives, resulting in higher food costs and uncertain environmental implications. Proliferation of credence-attribute goods may expand or restrict consumer choice based upon how sellers respond to the available alternatives. Such products appeal mainly to wealthier consumers, meaning policies to support their expansion are likely regressive.