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Cesar Velasquez, Catherine Eastman and John Masiunas

Fresh-market vegetable production in the midwestern U.S. has been declining due to diminished returns received by farmers, competition from vegetables produced in other regions, older farmers retiring and not being replaced, and urban sprawl. To reverse this trend, midwestern-U.S. vegetable farmers must find ways to enhance the value of their production. One way might be the production of vegetable cultivars that have enhanced attributes desired by consumers. Our objective was to assess how Illinois farmers' current perceptions may affect acceptance and production of vegetable cultivars with enhanced health benefits. About 20% of Illinois fresh-market vegetable growers were surveyed. We found that the current media attention on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) infl uenced grower response. Farmers who were concerned about GMOs were 5 times more likely to reject growing new vegetable cultivars with enhanced health benefits even those developed with conventional breeding methods. However, farmers who were not concerned or who were undecided in their opinions concerning GMOs were 11 times more likely to adopt new cultivars. Education and research programs must be developed to supply information about vegetable cultivars with enhanced health benefits and to address farmers' concerns about GMOs.