Distinctions were also noted between the 22% of the population that cared deeply about the issues of GMO foods and the 38% who cared not too much or at all. Those who cared most about GMO foods were more likely than those who did not to believe there would be population health problems (63% vs 7%) and negative environmental outcomes (53% vs 7%). However, they were also more likely to believe it would increase the global food supply (41% vs 28%) and lead to more affordably priced food (35% vs 22%). Again, there appear to be clear differences between perceptions of positive and negative impacts. Overall, those with science knowledge were more likely to believe there would be positive impacts and less likely to believe there would be negative impacts, while those who cared deeply about the issue were more likely to believe there would be both positive and negative impacts.
T RU S T I N TH E S C I E N C E
Based on the 2016 Pew survey data, consumers appear to believe that there is significant disagreement among scientists when it comes to GMOs (Funk and Kennedy, 2016). Only 14% of respondents believe that “almost all” scientists agree on the safety of GMO foods, and an additional 28% believe that “more than half” of scientists agree; essentially, more than half of those surveyed believe that fewer than half of scientists agree on the safety of bioengineered ingredients. What’s more, only 19% of respondents believe scientists understand the health impacts of GMO foods “very well”, while 35% say scientists do not understand the health impacts at all, suggesting that consumers also feel the topic is not well studied. There is additional distrust when it comes to scientific integrity, as 30% of respondents believe that scientists allow their desire to help the food industry to influence their findings most of the time, and another 50% think this occurs some of the time. Overall, consumers believe that scientists have not fully studied bioengineering, do not agree on how safe GMO foods are, and are unduly influenced by industry pressure. However, scientific literacy, assessed based on a nine-item scale, impacts this effect. In 2016, 51% of those with high science knowledge trust information from scientists “a lot,” compared to 38% of those with medium knowledge and 18% of those with low knowledge. Similarly, 50% of those with high science knowledge believe that the best evidence influences research findings on GMO foods “most of the time,” compared to 30% of those with medium science knowledge and 14% with low science knowledge.
R E L A T I ON S H I P B E TWE E N K NOWL E D G E AN D B E L I E F S
Vecchione, Feldman and Winderlich (2015) surveyed New Jersey supermarket consumers to assess the relationship among knowledge, attitude, and behavior when it came to the labeling of genetically modified food produ cts. They began by assessing consumers’ knowledge by asking them to rate their understanding of the term “genetically modified foods,'' their awareness of GMO foods in supermarkets, and their understanding of non-GMO labeling. Researchers then measured con sumers’ attitudes toward GMO food, by asking them to respond to such statements as, “Price is more important than the presence of a non- GMO label” and “I would prefer if food items were labeled to distinguish between GMO and non- GMO.” Finally, the survey a sked consumers to respond to statements about behavior , such as, “I look for a non - GMO label on foods'' and “My belief about how
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