Crop Biotech Update

Increased Knowledge about GM Foods Leads to More Positive Attitudes, Study Says

January 30, 2019

A study conducted by a group of researchers from the United States, The Netherlands, and United Kingdom reports that teaching people about the science behind genetically modified (GM) foods leads to more knowledge about and more positive attitudes toward GM, greater willingness to eat GM foods, and to perceiving GM foods as less risky. 

GM crops and GM foods are often met with harsh public opposition, though little research has been done to understand why this is. The research team conducted four studies which looked at lack of literacy of GM technology as a strong and unique predictor of GM food skepticism. 

Studies 1 and 2 showed that knowledge of GM technology is a unique predictor of GM food attitudes above general science knowledge and demographic controls. Study 3 confirmed that the unique predictive value of GM-specific knowledge was the same in the US, the UK, and the Netherlands. The fourth and final study sought to overcome this lack of knowledge by teaching people the basic science behind GM technology using a five-week, longitudinal experimental design. 

Results showed that learning about the science behind GM technology leads to more positive explicit attitudes towards GM foods, greater willingness to eat GM products, and lowered perceptions of GM foods as risky. These results provide a relatively simple mold for future interventions to overcome GM skepticism, suggesting that researchers and scientists may wish to focus on communicating the basic science behind GM technology and increasing science literacy.

For more details, read the paper's pre-print version.