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Americans Divided Over Organic, GM Foods: Poll

THURSDAY, Dec. 1, 2016 -- Americans are split on the value of organic foods and concerns about genetically modified (GM) foods, a new poll reveals.

The Pew Research Center poll of 1,480 adults nationwide found that 55 percent said organically grown produce is healthier than conventionally grown produce, while 41 percent said there's no difference.

Nearly four out of 10 respondents said GM foods are worse for health than other foods, while almost half said there is no difference. Ten percent said GM foods are healthier, the researchers found.

Genetically modified foods come from plants, animals or microorganisms in which their DNA has been altered by technology.

"The data suggest that people's divisions are linked to their interest in food issues and how they think food consumption ties to their well-being," said Cary Funk, lead author and associate director of research at Pew.

"Their views are not driven by their political attitudes, their level of education, their household income, or where they live," she noted in a center news release.

Some of the other survey results:

  • Thirty-four percent said some of the food they eat is organic. Six percent said most of it is.
  • Women care more than men about the issue of GM foods -- 20 percent versus 12 percent, respectively. And they're more pessimistic than men about the effect genetically modified foods may have on society.
  • Broken down by age, 18- to 49-year-olds were more likely than older adults to consider organic produce better for health. Similarly, many more young adults said GM food is worse for health than non-GM food, compared with those 65 and older.
  • Among those who care deeply about the issue of genetically modified foods, three-quarters consider GM foods worse for health, compared with 17 percent of those with little or no concern about GM foods.

The survey also found that 18 percent of respondents are focused on healthy and nutritious eating. These people are especially likely to believe that organic produce is healthier than regular produce.

Many respondents lack trust in scientists studying GM foods, the survey found.

More than one-third "say scientists do not understand the health effects of GM at all or not too well," Funk said. Meanwhile, "just 19 percent of Americans say scientists understand the health effects of GM foods 'very well.' "

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers healthy eating tips.

Posted: December 2016


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