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

September 18, 2003

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:The survey released today also probed topics rarely explored in widely-available opinion polls about agricultural biotechnology, including how Americans feel about the way GM products are regulated in the U.S. and the application of genetic engineering technology to animals. Findings show:"When it comes to genetically modified products, the U.S. public clearly supports the role of regulatory bodies like the FDA to provide an independent safety approval for new biotechnology food products," said Michael Rodemeyer, executive director of the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology. "This finding suggests that the actions of government agencies are likely to play an important role in influencing public acceptance of the next generation of agricultural biotechnology products."

The nationwide survey, conducted August 5-10, 2003 by The Mellman Group and Public Opinion Strategies, consisted of telephone interviews of 1,000 American consumers. The margin of error for this survey is +/- 3.1%. The margin of error is higher for subgroups. Data from a similar survey, released by the Pew Initiative in March 2001, was used for tracking purposes.
-end-
A summary of findings from the survey, as well as the statistical results can be viewed at http://pewagbiotech.org/research/2003update/

Results of the poll released in March 2001 can be viewed at http://pewagbiotech.org/research/gmfood/survey3-01.pdf

The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research project whose goal is to inform the public and policymakers on issues about genetically modified food and agricultural biotechnology, including its importance, as well as concerns about it and its regulation. It is funded by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to the University of Richmond.

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