Student Research Paper
Date of Creation
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetic engineering (GE) are accepted as safe and useful by the consensus of the scientific community. Their diverse utility has shown promise in addressing major challenges of the 21st century, including world hunger, global warming, and the prevalence of diet-related diseases (e.g. heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.). A 2014 Pew Research Center survey revealed that while 88% of scientists agreed that GM foods were safe to eat, only 37% of American consumers agreed. Furthermore, only 35% of U.S. adults trusted scientists to accurately inform the public about GMOs. To explain this disparity, I synthesize information about stakeholders in GMOs and GE, demographics linked to acceptance and denial, interpretation of scientific consensus, psychological mechanisms controlling bias, and poor practice of science. Analysis reveals that the disparity in GMO and GE perception between the scientific community and the American public was caused by bad science, foreign political agendas, profit-driven media, and psychological factors, such as intuitive expectations, soft attitudes, and the backfire effect; furthermore, I show that despite innate conduits for bias development, educated, high income, and youthful demographics will shrink the gap between scientific consensus and public opinion if GMO education and equal access to education increase.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Cherubino, Matthew A., "The Disparity Between Scientific Consensus and American Public Opinion of Genetically Modified Organisms and Genetic Engineering" (2019). Student Publications. 730.