Study finds consumer knowledge gap on genetically modified food

While consumers are aware of genetically modified crops and food, their knowledge level is limited and often at odds with the facts, according to a newly published study by a University of Florida researcher.

Last year, Brandon McFadden, an assistant professor of food and resource economics at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, published a study that showed scientific facts scarcely change consumers' impressions of genetically modified food and other organisms.

Consumer polls are often cited in policy debates about genetically modified food labeling. This is especially true when discussing whether food that is genetically modified should carry mandatory labels, McFadden said. In conducting their current study, McFadden and his colleague, Jayson Lusk, an agricultural economics professor at Oklahoma State University, wanted to know what data supported consumers' beliefs about genetically modified food and gain a better understanding of preferences for a mandatory label.

So he conducted the survey to better understand what consumers know about biotechnology, breeding techniques and label preferences for GM foods.

Researchers used an online survey of 1,004 participants that asked questions to measure consumers' knowledge of genetically modified food and organisms. Some of those questions tried to determine objective knowledge of genetically modified organisms, while others aimed to find out consumers' beliefs about and crops.

The results led McFadden to conclude that consumers do not know as much about the facts of genetically modified food and crops as they think they do.

Of those sampled, 84 percent supported a mandatory label for food containing genetically modified ingredients. However, 80 percent also supported a mandatory label for food containing DNA, which would result in labeling almost all food.

"Our research indicates that the term 'GM' may imply to consumers that genetic modification alters the genetic structure of an organism, while other breeding techniques do not," McFadden said.

As participants answered questions designed to measure their knowledge of scientific data on genetic modification, respondents seemed to change their statements about the safety of genetically modified foods, McFadden said.

The study is published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal.


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More information: B. R. McFadden et al. What consumers dont know about genetically modified food, and how that affects beliefs, The FASEB Journal (2016). DOI: 10.1096/fj.201600598
Journal information: FASEB Journal

Citation: Study finds consumer knowledge gap on genetically modified food (2016, May 27) retrieved 16 July 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-05-consumer-knowledge-gap-genetically-food.html
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May 28, 2016


The genome is an incredibly complex information system that genetic engineers treat like a simplistic array of tinker toys. To expect to change the natural sequence of a genome directly at the level of the genome and not have unanticipated consequences is ridiculous. And anyone who thinks that traditional selective breeding is the same thing is just plain stupid and doesn't have any appreciation for the dynamics of nature that occur in this process versus direct manipulation of a genome.

May 28, 2016

Read Steve Druker's book..."Altered Genes, Twisted Truth.....". Praised by scientists and other responsible people (who actually read the book, unlike the paid industry trolls who will reply to my post with lies and misinformation)...this book is a thoroughly researched investigation into how GMOs have been foisted on the public through probably the largest fraud ever perpetrated on the U.S. public. It's an excellent book. If you want the truth about this issue...read it.
In her foreword, Jane Goodall hails it as "without doubt one of the most important books of the last 50 years"; and several other scientists have also attested its importance and its soundness. For instance:
David Schubert, a Professor and Head of Cellular Neurobiology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, has praised it as "incisive, insightful, and truly outstanding" – and noted that it's "well-rea­soned and scientifically solid."

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