The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food is a contentious issue that has detrimental effects on the capacity to use GMOs in ways that benefits humanity. Researchers could identify and resolve much misinformation and confusion about GMOs if they understood what effect information has on people’s opinions of GMOs. Thus, this presentation concentrated on answering the question of: how does information affect people’s opinions of the use of genetically modified organisms in food? The hypothesis was that if people were provided with unbiased information about the use of GMOs in food and the effects of using GMOs, then they would better understand the technology and support it more than before receiving the information. Previous studies have suggested that providing information about genetic modification (GM) technology would increase support of genetically modified organisms. However, based on the small-scale survey conducted as part of this study, that finding does not always hold true. The results of the present study indicated that information had a slightly negative effect on support of the use of GMOs. The size of the study does limit the external validity of the results. While there are competing results for the question of how education affects the support of GMOs, there is one common theme: most people in the public do not have a good grasp on what GMOs are and what potential beneficial and detrimental effects GMOs can have. Thus, the scientific community must work with policymakers and educators to increase the lay public’s knowledge of GMOs so that individuals can make informed opinions about the use of them in agriculture.
Erin Nowak is a senior at Salem College graduating this May. She is majoring in Biology with a double minor in Chemistry and Mathematics. She is taking a gap year prior to attending graduate school to pursue her PhD in Biological Engineering. Outside of school she enjoys playing with her dog, Tank, and reading.