Exploring Attitudes towards Genetically Modified Foods: Is there a Connection between People who are Concerned About the Environment and their Attitudes towards GM Foods."

Authors: Dancer, H. and Shiel, C.


Journal: Meliora: International Journal of Student Sustainability Research

Genetically modified (GM) foods provide many advantages to modern agriculture, such as increased yields due to insect and pathogen resistance, productivity improvements, and offer a potential solution to address world hunger. However, GM foods have the potential to cause serious environmental harm, triggering public attitudes towards them to be divided. People are often suspicious of genetic modification, which may inhibit future development and adoption. This study considers GM foods, and aims to explore attitudes towards them, testing the hypotheses that people who are concerned about the environment are less likely to favour GM foods. Data collected through an online questionnaire, yielding 214 responses, is used to correlate environmental concern with attitudes towards GM foods, represented by a GM score. The data shows that total green score correlated against GM score showed a significant, but weak correlation. However, there were clear signs of heteroscedasticity in the data, showing that more environmentally concerned individuals show a greater variation in their attitude towards GM foods. Age also affected attitudes towards GM foods, with individuals between 46 and 60 being more likely to be against GM foods. The data shows that respondents’ main hesitations towards GM foods resulted from insufficient knowledge on the subject, concern over corporations using them for personal gain, and the uncertainty of the long-term effects on human and environmental health. If GM is to be used as part of the solution to sustainable food production, more emphasis is required on educating individuals on GM foods, their uses and future impacts.

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