A national survey shows that most Americans pay little attention to the debate over genetically modified foods, despite extensive media coverage of the issue.
The survey, released by researchers at Rutgers University, found that more than half (53 percent) say they know very little or nothing at all about genetically modified (GM) foods, and one in four (25 percent) say they have never heard of them. Even with the media attention resulting from recent ballot initiatives in California (Proposition 37) and Washington State (Initiative 522) and legislative actions in at least 20 other states that would require labeling of GM foods, the Rutgers study found that only about a quarter (26 percent) of Americans realize that current regulations do not require GM products to be labeled.
“Americans do care about what’s in their food, and they do read labels,” said William Hallman, professor of human ecology in Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, and lead author of the study. “Eighty-two percent of the respondents told us they sometimes or frequently or always read food labels. But determining what labeling information they value is not a straightforward task. Whether consumers say they want GM food labels depends on how you ask the question, so we asked about it in several ways.”
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