The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology is out with its periodic poll of consumer’s attitudes about genetically modified foods. They characterize American’s attitudes as “divided,” “not deeply held” and influenced by new information and events. A majority support a strong regulatory system for GM foods, and their discomfort with the technology varies inversely up the evolutionary ladder: most comfortable with the GM of plants, then less with microbes, animals used for food, and finally humans.
Most surprising to me is that while 30% of consumers said that GM foods are “basically safe,” 27% say that they are “basically unsafe,” a slight increase from previous polls in 2001 and 2003. There’s no data showing that GM plants are unsafe that I’m aware of, and Americans have been eating them for years now. So it’s difficult to see where these attitudes are coming from, except from media blow-ups like the Starlink controversy.
Apparently it’s the anti-GM activists who are winning such controversies and not those on the side of science.