The Science Behind GMOs
The following is a study detailing the perception and acceptance of the scientific consensus on the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
In 2017, researchers with Michigan State University’s Food@MSU initiative conducted the first nationwide Food Literacy and Engagement Poll. They
asked more than 1,000 consumers about their knowledge of and opinions related to our food system, and of the science behind it. When asked whether they thought
the statement “Genetically modified foods have genes and non-genetically modified foods do not,” was true or false, 37 percent of respondents said
they believed it was true. In fact, all food contains genes. The average plant, for example, has 20,000 to 45,000 genes, while humans have about 20,000 genes
(according to a 2014 article in The Scientist magazine). Respondents were also asked to rate how much they trust scientists when it comes to the health and safety of food.
Academic scientists fared best, earning the trust of 59 percent of respondents, with governmental scientists in the middle at 49 percent and industry
scientists trusted by only 33 percent. In a 2016 Pew Research Center survey of more than 1,400 U.S. adults, 39 percent of respondents reported that
they believe genetically modified foods are worse for health than non-GM foods, 10 percent indicated that GM foods are better for health than non-GM foods;
and 48 percent responded that GM foods were neither better nor worse for health than non-GM foods. This indicates that a significant portion of the public is
either neutral on the issue of GM foods or doesn’t know what to think. This result is somewhat surprising, given that media reports often indicate that no one is
undecided about the GMO controversy.