Over the years, many research polls have been conducted, geared towards the consumers, in order to determine a public opinion regarding GMOs.
In general, the public opinion of GMOs is polarized. People are generally characterized as for or against GMOs. A stereotypical proponent holds that using biotechnology is invaluable in increasing food production in order to feed a growing population. On the other hand, a stereotypical opponent claims that there are too many unknown consequences associated with extensive use of bioengineering and these have not been studied enough. They hold an uncertain and precautionary outlook.
A recent poll suggests that a vast majority of Americans are in favor of mandatory labels on GM food products. Also, many say that they would utilize these labels in order to avoid GM foods.
The poll finds that bout 34% of the public believe that GM foods are safe to eat. On he other hand, over 50% believe that these foods are unsafe to consume while about 15% are undecided on the controversy.
However, there is a common agreement in public opinion about food labels. More than 90% assert that the federal government should mandate labels on foods that say whether the product is bio-engineered. This finding is significant because it is rare to see such unanimity in public opinion over a rather controversial issue.
Of those 93% that believe that the government needs to require food labeling, about 58% claim that they would be less likely to purchase and consume foods labeled as GM. This could result in a problem as it puts the food industry in a predicament – by meeting the demands to the consumers and labeling food, it would steer away business from most of the products it sells. This is emphasized by the fact that while only about 6% of Americans hold that they would more likely purchase foods labeled as GM, about half claim that they would be more likely to purchase food that is labeled is organic.
Another study illustrates that genetically engineered food products are exceptionally unpopular among women. This is significant and worth considering because many women buy groceries for the family. To illustrate this discrepancy in gender, about 62% of American women believe that genetically modified foods are not safe to eat compared to only 40% of men.
Furthermore, compared to about 50% of men who claim that they would be less likely to purchase food that is labeled as GM, 65% of women hold this view.
The discrepancy is not only in gender; there exists a political difference as well. Republicans are divided evenly when questioned whether GM foods are safe to consume, while Democrats rate them unsafe by a 26-point margin. This is a vast discrepancy that is worth to note.
Public opinion changes over time. As new research is developed and new results are published, public opinion is predicted to vary considerably, especially over an issue as uncertain and unpredictable as this one.
The graph above illustrates the opinions of grocery shoppers. The question is slightly misleading in that it does not ask the shoppers anything regarding GMOs being harmful. As a result, while this survey gives us numbers of how many grocery shoppers think GMOs can be helpful, it gives us nothing to compare it to.
However, from the graph, we can deduce that less than half of the shoppers believe that there are proven benefits to GMOs. This number is surprisingly low, as the benefits of GMOs have been publicized. This also illustrates the public’s distrust of the government and independent organizations.
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