Changing public opinions on genetically modified organisms through access to educational resources
(1) Summer Ventures in Science and Mathematics at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, (2) Lenoir-Rhyne University
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are crops or animals that have been genetically engineered to express a certain physical or biological characteristic. Genetically modified foods have become increasingly popular based on the various benefits that genetically modified crops can provide, such as pest and drought resistance and increased yield and nutritional content. However, the public has had mixed reactions on the use of GMOs, as some believe it is an advancement in technology, while others are skeptical of their safety. The purpose of this study was to evaluate how opinions on genetically modified foods can change from exposure to small amounts of information. The following question guided the study: How do personal opinions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) change after being exposed to a small amount of educational information on GMOs? We tested the hypothesis that if participants were given educational resources to learn about GMOs, then they would have a more favorable opinion. We collected preliminary opinions via a survey, exposed the participant to a small sample of educational information about GMOs, and then collected opinions again. At the end of the survey, the percentage of participants who agreed with the use of GMOs in the United States increased by 27%. As the agricultural industry becomes increasingly aware of the benefits of GMOs, consumers must also approve of GMOs for them to be implemented. GMOs could be a possible solution to world hunger and climate impacts from agriculture, but they will be useless unless consumers feel confident and are educated in the science behind GMOs.
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