Genetic modification (GM) involves the transfer of genes from one plant or animal to another with the purpose of expressing a desired trait, such as pest resistance or increased productivity. Estimates suggest that as much as 80% of processed foods in the United States contain a component from a genetically modified crop, such as corn starch, high-fructose corn syrup, canola oil, soybean oil, soy flour, lecithin, or cotton-seed oil.
Despite the abundance of products with GM ingredients, the FPI study found that fewer than half of Americans (48%) are aware that such products are currently for sale in supermarkets, and fewer than a third (31%) realize they regularly consume GM foods. Even those who say they are aware of GM foods are confused as to which foods are out there; the majority (79%) incorrectly believed that GM tomatoes are available, possibly due to Calgene's highly publicized (but now defunct) GM tomato marketing effort in the mid 1990s.
On a quiz about the basic science behind GM technology, 87 percent of Americans could not score a passing grade. Seven in ten (70%) don't believe it is possible to transfer animal genes into plants, six in ten (60%) don't realize that ordinary tomatoes contain genes, and more than half (58%) believe that tomatoes modified with genes from a catfish would probably taste fishy. Fewer than half (45%) understand that eating a genetically modified fruit would not cause their own genes to beco
Contact: Michele Hujber
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey