U.S. Consumer Opinion Divided: Overview of 2004 Findings

Source Organization: Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology

Author: The Mellman Group/Public Opinion Strategies

11/01/2004 - In September 2004 the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology conducted its third comprehensive survey of U.S. consumer sentiment about the application of genetic engineering to agriculture. Similar comprehensive surveys were previously conducted by the Initiative in January 2001 and August 2003. The first survey sought to track consumer awareness of genetically modified (GM) crops, whereas the second survey continued that tracking effort and probed related issues such as regulation of GM foods and preferred applications.

This year the Pew Initiative built on its body of knowledge about consumer sentiment by conducting focus groups as well as fielding a survey. Four focus groups were conducted in Philadelphia and Des Moines on August 25th and 26th. Observations from those groups were then used to develop a survey that both tracked the issues addressed in prior surveys by the Pew Initiative and probed some of the sentiments detected in the focus groups. The resulting survey was then administered to 1000 American consumers who were interviewed by telephone September 22-26, 2004. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.1% at the 95% level of confidence. The margin of error is higher for subgroups.

The combined findings from the August 2004 focus groups and the September 2004 survey are summarized below and provide a robust picture of current U.S. consumer attitudes toward GM foods and genetic engineering, why those beliefs are held, and trends in those attitudes over the last three years. In addition to this summary, the Pew Initiative is making available a transcript of the focus groups and the survey results, prepared by the firms that jointly prepared and conducted them, the Melman Group and Public Opinion Strategies.

Read the full report U.S. Consumer Opinion Divided: Overview of 2004 Findings.

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