Essay Example on Direct consumer surveys consumer awareness of GMOs









According to literature based on direct consumer surveys consumer awareness of GMOs is low The Food Policy Institute at Rutgers University conducted a survey and concluded that US consumers in general were not informed regarding GMOs More specifically only 48 know that GMOs were available in supermarkets and just 31 believe that they have consumed a GM product Moreover most of participants self rated their knowledge to be inadequate 48 stated that they are almost uninformed about GMOs while 16 felt they knew nothing at all in comparison with 30 sufficiently informed and only5 knowing a lot about GMOs A cross cultural survey investigating consumers in the United States Japan and Italy illustrated that US consumers were more familiar with GMOs in contrast to Italian and Japanese The public seems to trust scientific sources such as university scientists over alternative sources such as farmers environmental organizations government agencies grocery stores and food manufacturers Wunderlich Gatto 2015 Therefore although GM products have been in the food industry for decades and continue to increase in use consumer awareness is not increasing accordingly 

A rigorous assessment of shortfalls in consumer knowledge should take place leading to the development of guidelines and policies to increase public understanding Future studies should examine methods of published scientific information to consumers by using popular channels of information to help increase the volume and quality of GMO related information available to the average consumer Furthermore the education of those responsible for the distribution of this knowledge through such public media sources is of paramount significance to enhance risk communication Summarizing these sources should be honest accurate provide both pros and cons and try to inform the laypeople instead of convincing them about GMOs Do the benefits outweigh the risks Although seeds are expensive because of their resistance to pests GM crops can maximize the agricultural output while minimizing the pesticide and other input expenses Qaim 2010 Also the nutritional content of these crops can be altered providing a more comprehensive nutritional profile than what was offered previously For instance second generation GM crops involve enhanced quality traits such as higher nutrient content Golden Rice one of the first GM crops is modified to address vitamin A shortage a common phenomenon in developing countries that leads to blindness and entails higher rates of child mortality and infectious diseases Widespread production and consumption of bio fortified staple crops could improve health outcomes and provide economic benefits in a very cost effective way especially in rural areas of developing countries A recent simulation shows that Golden Rice could reduce health problems associated with vitamin 

A deficiency by up to 60 percent in rice eating populations Qaim 2010 On the other hand there are fears about unexpected consequences of GM crossbreeding which involves mating between different species For example genes that are mixed between animals and plants are one concern regarding GM foods Tomatoes that have been engineered to have a longer shelf life had genes inserted from flounder This kind of genetic manipulation may trigger diseases to be spread across different species Ethically another issue is that vegetarians who do not eat food containing animal genes may accidentally consume Additionally there is a danger of triggering allergies or diseases in humans Given that a gene could be extracted from an allergenic organism and placed into another one that typically does not cause allergies a person may unknowingly be exposed to an allergen that could lead to an allergic reaction There is also the fear that new allergies could occur by mixing genes from two different organisms Finally ethical concerns are raised regarding environmental impact such as our ability to constrain GM crops in a specific area and stop an unwanted spreading of them Murnaghan 2017 Until now it seems that the benefits do not outweigh the risks because assessing long term effects of GM foods is one of the greatest challenges of this biotechnology

The unpredictable element of GM foods and the fact that this technology is relatively new means that knowing in advance what might go wrong is difficult to assess and there is the danger of ostrich s fallacy There are also criticisms of the corporations who produce these foods that encourages issues around long term effects because some people believe these companies are unethical and that they essentially try to cover up evidence showing negative long term effects of the foods Also the issue of deciding who will be liable for unexpected consequences should be a vital one to examine Will it be the company who engineered the product the growers the government and regulatory bodies who approved it or the supermarket that sold it These are all important issues that need to be investigated Unexpected consequences of GM foods should be a concern for virtually anyone including supporters of GM foods

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