Crop Biotech Update

Statements by Known Organizations Influence Consumer's Attitude about GMOs

September 22, 2021

Consumer attitudes towards genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and their products require continuous research to help address local and international concerns about consumer health and environmental safety. In a recent study, it was found that consumers' concerns are decreased significantly when they are continuously exposed to a science-based message by a trusted organizational body.

The study involved 500 adult respondents in the United States. They were surveyed about their general eating and shopping behaviors, their awareness and attitudes towards GMOs, and their GMO beliefs before and after exposure to a science-based statement. During the survey, the respondents were exposed to cards with statements about GM foods made by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Medical Association (AMA), World Health Organization (WHO), National Academy of Sciences (US), England's Royal Society of Medicine, and the European Union. Each respondent was given three cards – the WHO statement card and two other random cards from the other five organizations. This was repeated twice more in different manners while still exposing the respondent to the WHO card each time. The objective was to determine the extent to which government information influences and changes current consumer attitudes toward GMOs.

The results reflected that when consumers are "forced" to read a trusted scientific statement about the safety of GMOs, their concerns about whether it is bad for one's health or can cause cancer decreased significantly. The researchers noted that consumers only need to be exposed to a little bit of this information to alter their opinions. The findings also include the following:

  • Most US consumers are aware of the presence of GMOs in food.
  • Diet awareness did not affect the concern for GMOs.
  • The most trusted of the six organizations were the WHO and AMA.
  • US consumers want manufacturers to label the existence of GMOs in their food products. For those who are concerned about GMOs, half of them would still buy the product if labeled.

The researchers also noted that consumers do not want manufacturers to stop using GMOs but would prefer that the products be labeled to reflect transparency and to let consumers know about the GM content. They also recommended that acknowledging the existence of labels may be what consumers need to rationalize their purchase decision.

Read the full paper in Future Foods to learn more.

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