Biotech Updates

Research Confronts "Yucky" Attitudes About GE Foods

September 26, 2018

A new study conducted by researchers led by Sydney Scott, assistant professor of marketing at the Olin Business School at the Washington University in St. Louis confronts lay attitudes towards genetically engineered (GE) foods. The study concludes that after more than 20 years of growth in genetic engineering in agriculture, consumers have largely remained skeptical, even to the point of being "grossed out" by the idea.

Scott said, "Consumers seem to be saying it's not OK to poke into the DNA. That's yucky. People are grossed out by that." The authors wrote that people view nature and naturalness as sacred and GE food is a violation of naturalness. The research also shows that consumers follow "the magical law of contagion" — the idea that the slightest contact between natural foods and something else contaminates it. Thus, a housefly's wing in a bowl of soup renders the entire serving inedible.

The researchers described four governmental approaches to GE crops regulation, ranging from promotional to permissive to precautionary to preventative. They cite, for example the USA as permissive, while the European Union is restrictive. The research also aimed to expose gaps between advocates of GE foods and their opponents. According to Scott, the gap won't be solved by just taking into account scientific information. She added that they are trying to figure out how to arrive at a better consensus.

For more details, read article in The Source.