Science majors less skeptical of GMOs than other undergraduates? Yes, but not by much

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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

For the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to supervise a number of students working on their undergraduate thesis in the College of Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) …. Today’s blog is a summary of Jackson Wiebe’s 2018 undergraduate thesis, looking at USask undergrad knowledge of biotech.

[Editor’s note: Stuart Smyth is a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Saskatchewan.]

Jackson’s research question was to assess whether …. students in science oriented undergraduate programs would have views that were more accepting of biotech than the views held by students in non-science oriented programs. His hypothesis was that students taking a core of science classes would have a greater likelihood of supporting biotechnology than students taking non-science courses. In total, Jackson surveyed 711 undergraduate students, of which 541 were enrolled in science programs and 170 from non-science programs.

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Based on this survey, undergraduate students at the U of S enrolled in science-based education programs have a slightly higher acceptance for GM products, although they only have marginally more knowledge.

Science oriented students may be more familiar with the process about what is required to make a GMO, although this is unlikely as knowledge did not seem to be significantly higher when asked which crops grown in Canada are GM.

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