Science literacy doesn’t change minds about GMOs

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In an excellent meeting at the National Academy of Sciences last week, there was a lot of discussion of science communication to the public and of science literacy.

Many of us who have been reading and writing about food have the idea that GMOs are quite polarizing and that there is a right-left divide with those on the right supporting GMOs and leftists opposing them.

But in fact, most of the general public doesn’t actually care about GMO foods at all. It’s not on their radar. Most people haven’t heard of them and consume them without any real concern, according to a survey by Rutgers professor William Hallman. And while activist groups have been trying to generate a lot of opposition, nobody actually cares outside of the small group of activists. Dan Kahan plots perception of GM risk versus political views (liberal to conservative) and shows there is but a small slope to the line from one end of the spectrum to the other. In other words, support or criticism of GM crops is not polarized left to right as issues such as climate change, and gun laws are.

This divide is not really one of science believers and science disbelievers either, as surveys show that members of the U.S. general public across the board strongly hold pro-science attitudes and hold scientists in high regard (both university and industrial).

Got that? Science literacy does NOT make people more accepting of GMOs: the same phenomenon as they found in climate change studies.

Read full, original article: GMOs and Climate Change: Why do people believe what they do?

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