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Americans' knowledge of genetically modified foods remains low and opinions on safety still split

Washington, DC Americans knowledge of genetically modified (GM) foods remains low and their opinions about its safety are just as divided as they were two years ago, according to a new survey released today by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology. 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 for tracking purposes, the survey released today suggests:

  • Americans knowledge about GM foods remains low even as GM technology is increasingly applied to agriculture. In 2001, 44% had heard a great deal or some about genetically modified foods; today, that number is 34%, a 10 point decline. Similarly, 45% had heard a great deal or some about biotechnology use in food production; today, that number is 36%, a nine point decline. Although it has been estimated that 70-75% of processed foods in grocery stores contain GM foods, just 24% of Americans believe they have eaten GM foods while 58% say they have not, suggesting that Americans continue not to recognize the extent to which GM foods are present in foods they eat every day.
  • Opposition to GM foods has softened somewhat in the last two years but opinions about safety remain split. Today, 25% of people polled reported they would support the introduction of GM foods to the U.S. food supply, down only 1 point from 26% in 2001. At the same time, opposition has declined ten points, from 58% opposed in 2001 to 48% opposed today. But Americans have essentially the same opinion about the overall safety of GM foods as they did in 2001: 27% of consumers say that GM foods are basically safe (down from 29%), while 25% say that they are basically unsafe (the same as in 2001). Taken together, these numbers indicate that the American public con
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18-Sep-2003


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