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People Who Don’t Understand Science Oppose GMOs the Most

Many people opposed to genetically modified food know very little about food science: study


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People who are the most intensely opposed to genetically modified food think they know a lot about food science, but they actually know the least. That's according to a peer-reviewed paper published in January in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, NPR reports.

The survey, conducted by four universities, asked 2,000 people in Europe and the United States how much they knew about genetically modified food, what their opinion was, and how intense it was.

Then it went on to ask a series of true or false questions about science, ranging from basic issues such as whether the core of the Earth is hot or cold to questions on genetics like, "Does a non-genetically modified tomato have genes?"

The results showed the more strongly people reported being opposed to GMOs, the lower their science test score.

"A lot of people are upset by genetically modified food," said Sydney Scott, a marketing professor at Washington University in St. Louis, one of the schools that ran the study. Consumers she said, are often less likely to learn the facts when it's something they feel very passionate about, "especially if they feel like it's challenging their moral values."

"The real flawed science is that the Food and Drug Administration is not rigorously testing genetically modified food," said Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director for the anti-GMO Organic Consumers Association, a group that does not place much belief in the study.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Toronto and the University of Pennsylvania also participated in the study, which was primarily paid for by grants from the National Science Foundation.

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