Public Sentiment About Genetically Modified Food (2003)

Source Organization: Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology

Author: The Mellman Group/Public Opinion Strategies

09/15/2003 - This survey on biotechnology and genetically modified (GM) foods revealed that Americans’ knowledge of GM foods remains low and their opinions about its safety is just as divided as it was two years ago. The survey also shows that knowing FDA reviewed and approved a GM product can increase public confidence and that public support for GM products decreases as uses of the technology shift from plants to animals.

Using data from a similar survey released by the Pew Initiative in March 2001, the survey was able to compare awareness levels over a two-year period and draw two major conclusions: Americans’ knowledge about GM foods remains low, even as GM technology is increasingly applied to agriculture; and opposition to GM foods has softened somewhat in the last two years but opinions about safety remain split.

The survey released today also probed topics rarely explored in widely-available opinion polls about agricultural biotechnology, including how Americans feel about the way GM products are regulated in the U.S. and the application of genetic engineering technology to animals. Key findings indicate that Americans oppose a ban on GM foods, but are strongly supportive of a regulatory process that directly involves the FDA. It was also determined that Americans are far more comfortable with genetic modifications to plants than animals, and are particularly supportive of genetic modifications that improve health.

The nationwide survey, conducted August 5-10, 2003 by The Mellman Group and Public Opinion Strategies, consisted of telephone interviews of 1,000 American consumers. The margin of error for this survey is +/- 3.1%. The margin of error is higher for subgroups. Data from a similar survey, released by the Pew Initiative in March 2001, was used for tracking purposes.

Read the full report Public Sentiment About Genetically Modified Food (2003)

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