Do GMOs ‘contaminate’ our food? Survey probes consumer views of biotech crops

Is a non-browning apple less “natural” than non-fat milk? In one case, people have injected something into apple DNA to prevent it from turning brown after it’s cut. In the other, people used technology to remove something that appears naturally in milk.

The question of what constitutes “naturalness” — and consumers’ attitudes about it — lies at the heart of Washington University in St. Louis research from lead author Sydney Scott, assistant professor of marketing in the Olin Business School. The paper …. “An Overview of Attitudes Toward Genetically Engineered Foods,” was published …. in the Annual Review of Nutrition.

“In some contexts, people view nature and naturalness as sacred and genetically engineered food as a violation of naturalness,” the authors wrote. The prevailing research also shows that consumers follow “the magical law of contagion” — the idea that the slightest contact between natural foods and something else contaminates it. Thus, a housefly’s wing in a bowl of soup renders the entire serving inedible.

Related article:  High profile dispute over GMO safety shines spotlight on China's biotech handwringing

“It’s an overview of where we are,” said Scott, who previously published research on the “moralization” of genetically modified foods and the role of consumer “disgust” in their consumption. “It’s looking at the state of what’s been done in the regulatory landscape and the research in understanding attitudes.”

Read full, original article: Research confronts ‘yucky’ attitudes about genetically engineered foods

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