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Clarity is needed when it comes to the food we eat. In this case, we’re talking about Genetically Modified Organisms. You know, GMOs. Frankenfoods. Things-humans-shouldn’t-eat. There’s a lot of content doing the rounds that’s heavy on opinion but light on facts. What we really need are facts. Information. Pro and con, since everyone knows there’s always two sides. (This doesn’t imply equivalence, unfortunately.)
In the 2018 Pew Research Center published a report, Public Perspectives on Food Risks, which examined the results from its latest survey regarding attitudes toward food additives, agricultural use of antibiotics and pesticides, and genetically modified organisms.
According to their data, half of Americans (49%) believe GM ingredients are worse for one’s health. This represents a 10% increase from three years ago. Nearly half (44%) believe GM ingredients are neither better or worse for one’s health.
The public’s negative views translates into how they believe GMOs will affect their health. 24% say GM foods are very likely to lead to health problems while another 35% say it is fairly likely to lead to health problems. Taken together, 59% of people polled believe consuming GM ingredients will lead to health problems.
A general lack of understanding exists, however. When asked how much they have read about GMOs, only 29% say they have read a lot. Meanwhile, 58% say they’ve read a little. 13% say they’ve never read anything. Making things even murkier, there isn’t agreement about what constitutes a genetically modified organism.
59% of people polled believe consuming GM ingredients will lead to health problems.
For example, the United States Department of Agriculture and its European counterpart differ significantly regarding the significance of basic editing techniques. The USDA “ruled that some uses of gene editing techniques can be indistinguishable from traditional breeding methods.” As a result, plants modified accordingly are not considered genetically modified and aren’t subject to regulation. On the other hand, the European Union Court of Justice ruled that “gene-edited crops should be classified as genetically modified, and as such, subject to regulation.”
What we propose is a long-term, systematic, evidence-based, exploration of what GMOs are, the various issues swirling around them, the people involved in the field (something we feel is extremely important), and what the future may hold for them (since they aren’t going away… it’s like unringing a bell). We hope our readers (and supporters) will take an active role in the project by sending in thoughts, questions, suggestions, and advice on what avenues to pursue.
It’s not our job to make up people’s minds for them and that isn’t our intention. What we do want is to provide fact-based information taking into account different viewpoints.
Understanding the food we eat is important. Be informed.
And if you care about having an honest, hyperbole free discussion about Genetically Modified products we urge you to lend your support to the Scientific Inquirer’s deep-dive into the topic, The GMO Cornucopia. Whether it’s in the form of a one-time donation or a regular contribution, your generosity means a lot. Visit the Scientific Inquirer on Patreon.
IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons