The following is an excerpt of an interview at the AgWeb website with Marianne Smith Edge, a sixth-generation farmer and registered dietitian, about a new consumer research study taking A Fresh Look at GMOs.
A new survey finds that while taste, price and nutritional value continue to be the primary drivers for food-buying decisions among moms, environmentally friendly farming practices also are important. The data comes from A Fresh Look, a farmer-led nonprofit seeking to educate consumers who are undecided about GMOs used in food production.
AgWeb.com asked Marianne Smith Edge, a sixth-generation farmer and registered dietician affiliated with A Fresh Look, to share some of the key takeaways from the survey and how future consumer outreach might influence perceptions of GMOs.
How many moms were included in the survey? What was the survey method and the margin of error?
The survey consisted of 810 moms between the ages of 25 and 49 with children ages zero to 17. Participants were about 50 % Millennials and 50% Gen X. The survey was conducted online from among a sample of moms drawn from a large national panel in fall 2017 and was weighted to represent the demographic composition of moms in the U.S. based on the latest U.S. Census data. The margin of error was 3.46%.
In your view, what might be the most important misconceptions moms have about food, based on this survey?
This survey asks specifically about their knowledge of how food is grown, and it does show a disconnect between what is most important to moms and how GMO farming provides those attributes. For example, over 90% of moms noted they care a lot about protecting the health of humans and animals and reducing pesticide in food production, but less than 50% know that GMO crops help meet these important values. Additionally, over one-third of moms either think food grown from GMO seed is not good for you or don’t know whether it is good for you.
What are the factual, nutritional counterpoints to each of these misconceptions? Why are they important to families having a well-balanced, safe and nutritious diet?
Thirty years of research by independent scientific organizations in the EU and U.S. have shown no negative health effects on more than 100 billion animals fed food grown with GMO farming methods. Likewise, no ill effects have been shown with human health.
It’s important for families to understand regardless of whether food was grown using traditional, organic or GMO farming methods, they can be confident that our food supply is safe and can provide the nutritious food they are seeking.
What surprised you, if anything, about the facts moms already know about how food is grown or raised?
The results confirm other survey results with which I’m familiar. There is a disconnect between what consumers deem important to them about food production and knowing the attributes of GMO farming: Approximately 40% of the moms agreed GMO farming makes a difference by requiring fewer pesticides, increasing harvest yields and reducing environmental impacts.