Trends: Attitudes about Agricultural Biotechnology and Genetically Modified Organisms

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American Association for Public Opinion ResearchTrends: Attitudes about Agricultural Biotechnology and Genetically Modified OrganismsAuthor(s): James Shanahan, Dietram Scheufele and Eunjung LeeSource: The Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 2 (Summer, 2001), pp. 267-281Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Association for Public Opinion ResearchStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3078805 .Accessed: 11/09/2013 11:08Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. .American Association for Public Opinion Research and Oxford University Press are collaborating with JSTORto digitize, preserve and extend access to The Public Opinion Quarterly.http://www.jstor.org This content downloaded from 128.42.202.150 on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:08:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and ConditionsTHE POLLS-TRENDS ATTITUDES ABOUT AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY AND GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS JAMES SHANAHAN DIETRAM SCHEUFELE EUNJUNG LEE The issue of genetic modification of plants and food crops has reached a decision point as the world begins to think about whether it wants fundamental genetic alterations to be a part of its food. Certainly European reactions have been noticeable, leading to cutbacks in research funding (Bollag 2000) and warnings by consumer advocacy groups (e.g., Stiftung Warentest 2000). In part as a result of the ongoing debate in Europe, coverage of the issue in U.S. media has increased markedly since 1998 (see fig. 1). Spurred by these de- velopments, we examine trends in public opinion concerning genetic modi- fication, especially in food and agriculture. The general concern with genetic science is not new. In fact, Singer, Com- ing, and Lamias (1998) recently summarized some public opinion studies on the issue. Their analysis, however, focused less on agricultural biotechnology and food. This is not surprising, given that the issue of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) only started to emerge as an issue on the public's agenda beginning in 1998. This is shown in figure 1, which depicts an increase in the frequency of U.S. newspapers publishing articles in which agricultural biotechnology was the main topic. Abbott (2000) argues that the media en- gaged in a definable period of negative attention to GMOs, 1998-2000, which he terms a "hoopla." Abbott's data showed that coverage after 1997 was much more negative than earlier coverage had been. Whether the articles are a cause, harbinger, or symptom of public concern is not easy to say, but the tides may be changing for genetic modification of JAMES SHANAHAN is associate professor and DIETRAM SCHEUFELE is assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Cornell University, where EUNJUNG LEE is a doctoral student. All correspondence should be addressed to the first author at Department of Communication, Cornell University, 314 Kennedy Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853; E-mail: jes30@cornell.edu. Public Opinion Quarterly Volume 65:267-281 C) 2001 by the American Association for Public Opinion Research All rights reserved. 0033-362X12001/6502-0006$02.50 This content downloaded from 128.42.202.150 on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:08:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions268 Shanahan, Scheufele, and Lee 400 - 350 - 300- 250 - 200- o1v 150 100 50 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 Figure 1. Media coverage of agricultural biotechnology, 1990-2000. (The figure presents the number of stories from the Lexis-Nexis database, in each year, dealing with "agricultural biotechnology" in headline or lead material.) food. Where once journalists had tended to pay attention mostly to the seem- ingly limitless benefits of genetic modification, by 1998 they were paying attention to the negative consequences. Stories of genetic modifications in the dairy system (the Bovine Somatotrophin [BST] controversy) paved the way for the European experience to catalyze a wider journalistic and, possibly, public opinion reaction. This article examines some of the dimensions of that reaction, from awareness to attitudes to specific behavioral intentions. I. Awareness of Biotechnology/Genetic Engineering Until recently, the American public has remained relatively unaware of issues related to agricultural biotechnology, genetic engineering, or genetic modi- fication, but people are increasingly paying attention. In surveys between 1993 and 2000, more than half of the respondents in a variety of surveys have said they had read or heard "not much" or "nothing at all" about the issue. In the most recent Harris poll in 2000, a majority of those surveyed reported at least "some" knowledge of genetically modified (GM) food (57 and 58 percent, when asked about GM food or GM crops, respectively; see question 1). The other data sets do not show clear trends in awareness. So, if news coverage This content downloaded from 128.42.202.150 on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:08:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and ConditionsPoll Trends: Genetically Modified Organisms 269 is having any effect on awareness, which is arguable, it has been happening only very recently. In two Angus Reid studies, from 1998 to 2000, where people were asked about their knowledge or understanding of GM foods, the number of people who said they had known a little more than "just heard the term" but less than "some" increased by 10 percent from 1998 to 2000, while those saying they were "not aware" declined at the same rate during the same period (question 2). Similarly, a series of data from the International Food and In- formation Council (IFIC) shows an increase in informedness about the issue, again beginning between 1999 and 2000 (question 3).1 While the percentage of people who ranked their knowledge level lower than a 4 (on a 10-point scale) has dropped from 71 percent in the early 1999 sample to 55 percent in the mid-2000 survey, the proportion of people who felt that they were moderately informed about biotechnology (ranging from 4 to 7 on a 10-point scale) increased over the course of the year. Thus, at least recently, it does seem that awareness is increasing. When people were asked whether genetically altered foods were currently for sale in supermarkets, most gave an incorrect answer ("no") or admitted that they did not know.2 There was no consistent observable pattern of change in this knowledge measure, except a notable drop in the amount of those saying "no" in the final IFIC study (question 4). II. Attitudes toward Biotechnology/Genetic Engineering of Foods In terms of attitude, the major issue is whether the risks of GMOs outweigh their perceived benefits. Though it is difficult to infer changes in public opinion from sources where question wording differs, data from a number of surveys show that respondents have seen more and more risks in agricultural bio- technology as time goes by. In many ways, people seemed unready reasonably to weigh the benefits and risks of the new agricultural technology in the 1980s, that is, in the very earliest stages of development of the technology. In a 1985 Roper study, 21 percent of respondents said they were "not sure" or refused to answer the question. Furthermore, 29 percent said they had a "mixed opinion," which was the modal response (question 5). Of those who did make 1. "Based in Washington, DC, IFIC focuses primarily on U.S. issues. It also participates in an informal network of independent food information organizations in Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada, Japan and Latin America. Supported primarily by the broad-based food, beverage and agricultural industries, it is unique in that it does not represent any product or company, nor does it lobby for legislative or regulatory action" (source: http://ificinfo.health.org/IN- FOIFIC.HTM). The general levels of support in the IFIC data may be somewhat more biased toward an industry perspective, but the trends are still of interest. 2. For instance, many foods are prepared with oils from plants such as oilseed rape (canola), which have been genetically modified to be herbicide resistant. This content downloaded from 128.42.202.150 on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:08:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions270 Shanahan, Scheufele, and Lee a choice, a higher proportion seemed to worry about the risks in 1985 (28 vs. 22 percent), but benefits were ranked more highly in 1987 (38 vs. 26 percent). However, as many as one-fourth of the respondents still said they were "not sure" or refused to answer in 1987 (question 5). In the 1990s, the public's skepticism toward genetic engineering has stood out in starker relief as people were consistently more inclined to choose the "risks outweigh benefits" stance.3 Question 5 depicts results from a variety of sources, showing a general increase in fear about the risks of biotechnology. Again, the use of different wordings interferes with inferring a trend; question wording seems to matter a lot here, with the most sinister response to biotech having been provoked by a somewhat leading question that invoked a Jurassic Park scenario (in the 1993 Harris poll). One should not overgeneralize from these findings, given the different ques- tion wordings. A better trend might be inferred from National Science Foun- dation (NSF) data. Attitude questions were also asked in NSF's Science and Engineering Indicators study from 1985 to 1999. In contrast to the data in the previous question, however, these surveys revealed a public more comfortable with biotech. Of respondents, 46-50 percent took the "greater benefits" side either strongly or slightly, whereas 33-39 percent chose "greater risks" either strongly or slightly during the 1985-99 period (question 6). More interestingly, a gradual declining pattern was observable in both optimistic and pessimistic attitudes over time, where those who said "not sure" or refused to answer increased from 10 percent in 1985 to 17 percent in 1997 (question 6). Somewhat relatedly, in the relatively early years of biotechnology, 1983-93, people kept an optimistic outlook about the new technology when asked to consider the impact of this new technology on their lives; in general more than 65 percent of respondents predicted that genetic engineering would make their quality of life "a lot better" or "somewhat better" over the next decade (question 7). As time passed, the negative attitude among the public began to grow, concurrent with the point at which the issue began to receive more over- whelming media attention (again, see fig. 1). A series of IFIC surveys showed that the percentage of people who predicted that biotechnology would provide benefits for themselves and their family within the next 5 years dropped from 78 percent in 1997 to 59 percent in 2000. Again, it is important to note in this context that the IFIC is an organization that generally seeks to promote GMOs and related technologies. The number of people surveyed who disa- greed with that promising vision about the future of biotechnology rose from 14 to 25 percent (question 8). This indicates either that people were becoming less enchanted with the products themselves or were thinking that benefits would take longer to achieve. 3. It needs to be noted that in a Harris series of 1993 and 2000, the "mixed opinion" or "equal benefit and risk" response choice was not provided, which interferes with inferring a trend. This content downloaded from 128.42.202.150 on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:08:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and ConditionsPoll Trends: Genetically Modified Organisms 271 Furthermore, two recent Gallup polls show only very slight increases in perception of actual risk. Those with "no opinion" account for about 20 percent in both years (1999 and 2000), while the number of respondents who had faith in safety dropped by only 2 percent. The number of those who believed there was a potential hazard increased only three points to 30 percent in 2000 (question 9). And, general support for the use of biotechnology in agriculture and food production assumed a similar aspect. While somewhat more people claimed they support the use of agricultural biotechnology rather than opposing it, the number dropped from 51 percent in 1999 to 48 percent in 2000 (question 10). These very small changes clearly indicate no significant effect from the news coverage. m. Willingness to Purchase GM Products The use of biotechnology or genetic modification in food production seems much more acceptable to the public when it is used for enhancing food safety than when it is used to improve food quality. All things being equal, while 67-77 percent of people said they were "very or somewhat likely" to buy a genetically modified product when it was altered "to be protected from insect damage/to require less pesticide," fewer (51-62 percent) people would be likely to buy a product that had been modified to improve taste or freshness (questions 11 and 12). For willingness to purchase products that would reduce pesticide use, the trend is toward less acceptance (question 11). Little change has been observed in willingness to purchase products genetically modified for better quality (question 12). Traditional thoughts about food seem to play a bigger role than GM in- formation in making decisions on food purchase. To many people, it did not matter whether biotechnology was used to make a certain product; one-third or more said there would be "no effect" of the use of biotechnology on their decision to buy the product (question 13). And an even larger number of people claimed knowledge of the use of biotechnology on a certain product could have a positive effect, meaning that they would be more willing to buy if they were convinced that a product is better enough in certain ways, re- gardless of the use of biotechnology. However, the number seeing a "positive effect" dropped from 57 to 40 percent, and the proportion seeing a "negative effect" increased from 10 to 18 percent from 1999 to 2000 (question 13). IV. Attitudes toward Labeling of GM products and the Polcy Questions about labeling genetically modified food have emerged only in relatively recent studies. The first question was introduced in the IFIC series This content downloaded from 128.42.202.150 on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:08:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions272 Shanahan, Scheufele, and Lee in 1997, asking opinions about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) so-called conditional labeling policy.4 A large majority of respondents (78 percent) said they "strongly" or "somewhat strongly" support the FDA's policy (question 14). However, this rate of support decreased to 69 percent in late 1999 and 2000, as the number of people who opposed the policy of the FDA increased from 20 percent in 1997 to 28 percent in 2000. When the positions counter to the FDA's stance are mentioned, a majority tended to support the FDA position (saying that all modified foods should be labeled), but this support has eroded somewhat recently (question 15). So, even in the IFIC data, which do manifestly favor the FDA's position by mentioning various arguments in favor of their position without listing any in support of the critics' positions, the FDA' s labeling position has lost public support over time. From the more standard opinion sources (Pew and Harris), mandatory la- beling on all genetically altered foods seems to be a well-accepted idea; 84 percent in 1999 and 86 percent in 2000 agreed (question 16). On top of that, 81-86 percent people also "strongly" or "somewhat strongly" agreed with the need for more detailed information for consumers about biotechnology in- gredients (question 17).5 V. Conclusions The controversies over agricultural biotechnology have yet to be resolved. While some farmers have been planting fewer GM crops, and while some food producers have been stepping away from GM food sources, there are some crops in which a high percentage of the product is modified. In the meantime, however, media coverage, science, and politics have become "so entangled [that] it has been hard to pick rationally through the facts" (Specter 2000, p. 68). Our data reflect this confusion among the public. They also suggest that citizens are apparently sensitive to the negative aspects of GMOs emphasized in media coverage related to these issues. Appendix Sources Many of the survey questions and results cited in this report were located from the public opinion online search engine ("Polls and Surveys" of Lexis-Nexis, provided by the Roper Center for Public Opinion. Keywords such as "biotechnology," "genetic 4. This policy requires labeling only when certain meaningful differences are present between the GM food and the naturally occurring food. 5. Again, though, in this question, it seems that IFIC unconscionably leads its audience. This content downloaded from 128.42.202.150 on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:08:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and ConditionsPoll Trends: Genetically Modified Organisms 273 modification," and "genetic engineering" were used for the search. Using references from various literatures dealing with public perception and attitudes on the issue of biotechnology, further polls were retrieved from the data archives of "pollingre- port.com," the online data archive that compiles records of polls, or through general Internet searches. Some data were also obtained through personal communication with the researcher. Most of the surveys cited are based on national adult samples with sample size of approximately 1,000 or more, with a few exceptions noted. The questions cited were drawn from surveys conducted by the survey organizations or researchers listed below. Abbreviations Ang.: Angus Reid Gallup: Gallup Poll Hall.: William K. Hallman and Jennifer Metcalfe (Rutgers-the State University) Harris: Louis Harris & Associates Hoban: Thomas J. Hoban and Patricia A. Kendall (North Carolina State University) IFIC: International Food Information Council (Worthlin Worldwide) NSF: National Science Foundation: Science and Engineering Indicators6 Pew: Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Priest: Susanna Homing Priest (Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University) PSRA: Princeton Survey Research Associates Worthlin: Worthlin Group Yank.: Yankelovich Partners Poll Inc. Awareness of Biotechnology/Genetic Engineering 1. As you may know, some food products and medicines are being developed with the help of new scientific techniques. The general area is called "biotechnology" and includes tools such as genetic engineering. Biotechnology is also being used to improve crop plants. How much have you heard or read about biotechnology? Would you say you have read or heard. . .? Hobana Hall.b IFIC IFIC Gallupc IFIC Pewd 3/92 6/93 3/97 2/99 9/99 10/99 12/99 (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) A great deal 8 9 11 7 10 13 22 Some 30 39 35 26 40 24 27 Not much 38 33 32 36 32 36 26 6. The survey interviews for NSF's Science and Engineering Indicators were conducted by several research organizations. The Public Opinion Laboratory of Northern Illinois University conducted surveys for the 1985 and 1990 Indicators, and the Public Affairs Division of Market Facts Inc. conducted the research in 1995. In 1997 and 1999, the National Opinion Research Center undertook the survey. This content downloaded from 128.42.202.150 on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:08:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions274 Shanahan, Scheufele, and Lee Nothing at all 25 19 21 31 18 27 24 No opinion/not sure 1 1 N 1,223 604 1,000 1,000 1,039 1,000 1,073 Gallupc IFIC Prieste Harris' IFIC 3/00 5/00 5/00 6/00 1/01 (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) Food Plant/Crop A great deal 14 14 7 15 16 15 Some 37 31 22 42 42 32 Not much 30 34 58 28 27 31 Nothing at all 19 21 12 14 14 22 No opinion/not sure 1 1 1 N 998 1,000 1,002 1,015 1,015 1,000 a Now I want to ask you about some recent developments in science and technology. The term "biotechnology" refers to the use of biology to create new products or change existing ones. How much have you heard or read about biotechnology-a lot, some, a little, or nothing? b Genetic engineering involves new methods that make it possible for scientists to create new plants and animals by taking parts of the genes of one plant or animal and inserting them into the cells of another plant or animal. This is sometimes called gene splicing or biotechnology. How much have you heard or read about these methods-a great deal, some, not much, or nothing at all? c As you may know, some food products and medicines are being developed using new scientific techniques. The general area is called "biotechnology" and includes tools such as genetic engineering and genetic modification of food. How much have you heard or read about this issue-a great deal, some, not much, or nothing at all? dAs you may know, some fruits and vegetables are being genetically altered to make them taste better, last longer, or to increase crop yields. How much, if anything, have you heard about this-a lot, some, only a little, or nothing at all? e In general, how well informed do you feel that you are with respect to modem biotech- nology-extremely/well informed, adequately informed, not very well informed, not informed at all? ' How much have you seen, read, or heard about "genetically modified foods" and "types of plants and crops which have been genetically engineered"? 2. How much would you say you know or understand about genetically modified foods? Ang. Ang. 1998 2/00 (%o) (%) A lot 4 4 Some 14 15 A little 26 36 Nothing, just heard term 12 11 Not aware 44 34 N 1,002 1,000 3. Now, using a 10-point scale, how well informed would you say you are about biotechnology, if zero means you are not at all informed about biotechnology and 10 means you are very well informed about biotechnology. This content downloaded from 128.42.202.150 on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:08:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and ConditionsPoll Trends: Genetically Modified Organisms 275 IFIC IFIC IFIC IFIC 2/99 10/99 5/00 1/01 (%) (%) (%) (%) 10 2 2 2 3 9 0 1 1 2 8 3 5 4 7 7 4 5 6 6 6 3 5 7 6 5 9 11 14 15 4 6 11 11 9 3 16 11 12 15 2 16 13 11 8 1 39 35 32 29 Don't know/refused 1 1 N 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 4. As far as you know, are there any foods produced through biotechnology in the supermarket now? IFIC IFIC IFIC Pewa IFIC IFIC 3/97 2/99 10/99 12/99 5/00 1/01 (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) Yes (for sale) 40 33 38 26 43 36 No (not for sale) 37 47 38 34 23 44 Don't know/refused 23 20 24 40 34 20 N 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,073 1,000 1,000 a As far as you know, do the stores where you shop for food sell fruits, vegetables, or other foods that have been genetically altered, or not? Atfitudes toward Biotechnology/Genetic Engineering of Foods 5. There is a growing debate over genetic engineering. Some people say it is good because it allows us to have greater control of the living organism we share the world with-for example, to alter animals and vegetables so as to make food production more efficient. Others say it is harmful because we are tampering with nature's delicate balance and that there could be side effects we never anticipated. How do you feel-do you think that, on balance, the effect of genetic engineering will be beneficial, or that, on balance, the effect will be harmful? Roper Ropera PSRAb Harrisc Harrisd 2/85 3/87 1/91 6/93 6/00 (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) Benefits/good out- weigh the risks/ harm 22 38 32 34 38 Risks/harm out- weigh the bene- fits/good 28 26 50 57 48 This content downloaded from 128.42.202.150 on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:08:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions276 Shanahan, Scheufele, and Lee Mixed opinion! equally good and bad 29 1 1 13 Not sure/refused 21 25 5 9 14 N 2,000 1,980 600 1,253 1,015 aMany things in our society have both good and bad effects. For example, aviation is good because it provides fast transportation. It is bad because it has caused a number of deaths. Here is a list of some different things that have resulted in both good and bad effects. Would you read down the list-for "genetic engineering"-tell me whether, on balance, you think the good effects outweigh the bad, or whether the bad effects outweigh the good? b Now, I'd like to ask about something you may not have heard about be- fore-genetic engineering. This is the science of altering genes, which are the building blocks of life for humans, animals, and plants. Genetic engineering changes genes to produce particular characteristics in living things.... Some people say genetic engineering is good because it helps us control nature and improve people's lives. Others say it's bad because tampering with nature's balance can produce unexpected side effects. Which comes closer to your view? (If necessary, ask: On balance, do you think genetic engineering is good or bad?) c In Jurassic Park the dinosaurs were supposedly produced by genetic en- gineering. Genetic engineering means the process of changing genes or DNA in a cell for medical, agricultural, or other scientific research. On balance, do you believe that the potential benefits of genetic engineering outweigh the risks or that the risks outweigh the potential benefits? dOverall, do you think the benefits of developing and growing these new plants and crops outweigh the risks of doing this, or do you think the risks outweigh the benefits? 6. Some persons have argued that the creation of new life forms through genetic engineering constitutes a serious risk, while other persons have argued that this research may yield major benefits for society. In your opinion, are the risks of genetic engi- neering greater than the benefits, or are the benefits of genetic engineering research greater than the risks? Would you say that the benefits are substantially greater than the risks, or only slightly greater than the risks? Would you say that the risks are substantially greater than the benefits or only slightly greater than the benefits? NSF NSF NSFa NSFb NSFC NSFd 1985 1990 1992 1995 1997 1999 (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) Benefits substantially greater than risks (harms, costs) 24 22 17 22 21 20 Benefits slightly greater than risks (harms, costs) 26 26 30 24 25 24 About equal 2 5 3 2 5 18 Risks (harms, costs) slightly greater than benefits 15 19 17 21 17 22 Risks (harms, costs) sub- stantially greater than benefits 24 19 21 12 16 16 This content downloaded from 128.42.202.150 on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:08:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and ConditionsPoll Trends: Genetically Modified Organisms 277 Not sure/refused 10 10 12 19 17 N 2,003 2,005 1,021 2,006 2,000 1,882 a In your opinion, are the costs of genetic engineering research greater than its benefits, or are the benefits of genetic engineering research greater than its costs? b In your opinion, have the benefits of genetic engineering research outweighed the harmful results, or have the harmful results of genetic engineering research been greater than its benefits? Would you say that the balance has been strongly in favor of beneficial results or only slightly? Would you say that the balance has been strongly in favor of harmful results or only slightly? c A split ballot was used; one-half of the respondents were asked the question used in 1995 and the other half were asked the same question with replacement of "creation of new life forms" with "modification of existing life forms." Using "modification" as the term slightly lowers risk perceptions by about .2 scale points (t = 2.9, 1,618, p < .01). Thus, respondents seem to consider "modifying" life as slightly but significantly less worrisome than "creating" life. d In the 1999 data, "don't know" responses are coded with the neutral category by the data provider. At this writing, individually disaggregated data were not available to us. 7. From what you know or have heard, do you think genetic engineering will make the quality of life a lot better for people such as yourself, somewhat better, make it somewhat worse, or a lot worse? Harris Harris Hall.a Priestb 9/83 10/86 6/93 5/00 (%) (%) (%) (%) A lot (much) better 32 18 20 53 Somewhat better 35 48 49 Somewhat worse 9 13 10 30 A lot (much) worse 7 9 6 No effect 2 5 Not sure/refused 17 11 15 12 N 1,256 1,273 604 959 a From what you know or have heard, do you think genetic engineering will make the quality of life for people such as yourself better or worse? b Do you think genetic engineering will improve our way of life in the next 20 years, will have no effect, or will make things worse? 8. Do you feel that biotechnology will provide benefits for you or your family within the next 5 years? IFIC IFIC IFIC IFIC IFIC 3/97 2/99 10/99 5/00 1/01 (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) Yes 78 75 63 59 64 No 14 15 21 25 22 Don't know/refused 8 10 16 16 14 N 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 9. From what you know or have heard, do you believe that foods that have been produced using biotechnology pose a serious health hazard to consumers, or not? This content downloaded from 128.42.202.150 on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:08:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions278 Shanahan, Scheufele, and Lee Gallup Gallup 9/99 3/00 (%) (%) Yes 27 30 No 53 51 No opinion 20 19 N 1,039 998 10. Overall, would you say you support or oppose the use of biotechnology in agriculture and food production? Hoban Worthlina Gallupb Gallupb 3/92 3/94 9/99 3/00 (%) (%) (%) (%) Strongly support 14 9 12 64 Moderately support 30 42 36 Moderately oppose 25 25 23 27 Strongly oppose 22 16 18 No opinion 10 9 8 11 N 1,123 1,036 1,039 998 a In general, are you in favor or opposed to the concept of genetically engineered products? b Overall would you say you strongly support, moderately support, moderately oppose, or strongly oppose the use of biotechnology in ag- riculture and food production? Willingness to Purchase GM Products 11. All things being equal, how likely would you be to buy a variety of produce, like tomatoes or potatoes, if it had been modified by biotechnology to be protected from insect damage and required fewer pesticide applications? Would you be very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely to buy these items? IFIC IFIC IFIC IFIC IFIC 3/97 2/99 10/99 5/00 1/01 (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) Very likely 39 34 28 30 32 Somewhat likely 38 43 39 39 38 Nottoolikely 11 11 11 14 14 Not at all likely 12 10 16 14 13 Don't know/refused 1 2 6 3 3 N 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 12. All things being equal, how likely would you be to buy a variety of produce, like tomatoes or potatoes, if it had been modified by biotechnology to taste better or fresher? Would you be very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely to buy these items? This content downloaded from 128.42.202.150 on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:08:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and ConditionsPoll Trends: Genetically Modified Organisms 279 IFIC IFIC IFIC IFIC IFIC 3/97 2/99 10/99 5/00 1/01 (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) Very likely 19 20 18 19 19 Somewhat likely 36 42 33 36 39 Not too likely 21 18 18 21 19 Not at all likely 22 19 25 22 19 Don't know/refused 2 1 6 2 4 N 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 13. Biotechnology has also been used to enhance plants that yield foods like cooking oils. If cooking oil with reduced saturated fat made from these new plants was available, what effect would the use of biotechnology have on your decision to buy this cooking oil? Would this have a positive effect, a negative effect, or no effect on your purchase decision? IFIC IFIC IFIC IFIC 2/99 10/99 5/00 1/01 (%) (%) (%) (%) Positive effect 57 42 40 46 Negative effect 10 15 18 17 No effect 32 39 39 33 Don't know/refused 1 4 3 4 N 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 Attitudes toward Labeling of GM Products and the Policy 14. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires special labeling when a food is produced under certain conditions: when biotechnology's use introduces an allergen or when it substantially changes the food's nutritional content, like vitamins or fat, or its composition. Otherwise special labeling is not required. Would you say that you support or oppose this policy of the FDA? IFIC IFIC IFIC IFIC IFIC 3/97 2/99 10/99 5/00 1/01 (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) Strongly support 45 50 45 42 40 Somewhat support 33 28 24 27 30 Somewhat oppose 9 9 12 10 11 Strongly oppose 11 10 14 18 13 Neither support nor opposea 3 Don't know/ refused 2 3 5 3 3 N 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 This content downloaded from 128.42.202.150 on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:08:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions280 Shanahan, Scheufele, and Lee a The "neither support nor oppose" option was offered only in the 2001 survey. 15. Some critics of the U.S. FDA policy say that any food produced through bio- technology should be labeled even if the food has the same safety and nutritional content as other foods. However, others, including the FDA, believe such a labeling requirement has no scientific basis, and would be costly and confusing to consumers. Are you more likely to agree with the labeling position of the FDA or with its critics? IFIC IFIC IFIC IFIC IFIC 3/97 2/99 10/99 5/00 1/01 (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) FDA 57 58 50 52 37 Critics 40 37 45 43 58 Don't know/refused 3 5 5 5 5 N 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 NOTE.-FDA = U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 16. Do you think the Food and Drug Administration should require labeling on all fruits, vegetables, or foods that have been genetically altered, or don't you think labeling is necessary? Yank.a Pew Harrisb 12/98 12/99 6/00 (%) (%) (%) Should require labeling (agree) 82 84 86 Labeling not necessary (not important) 14 14 13 Don't know/refused 4 2 1 N 1,031 1,073 1,015 a Do you think genetically engineered food should be labeled as such, or don't you think so? b Do you think the government should require the la- beling of all packaged and other food products stating that they include corn, soy, or other products which have come from genetically modified crops, or is that not important? 17. Simply labeling products as containing biotech ingredients does not provide enough information for consumers. It would be better for food manufacturers, the government, health professionals, and others to provide more details through toll-free phone numbers, brochures and Web sites. Please tell me whether you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree, don't know about the statement. IFIC IFIC IFICa 10/99 5/00 1/01 (%) (%) (%) Strongly agree 51 55 41 Somewhat agree 30 31 34 Somewhat disagree 7 7 11 Strongly disagree 5 5 10 This content downloaded from 128.42.202.150 on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:08:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and ConditionsPoll Trends: Genetically Modified Organisms 281 Don't know/refused 7 2 4 N 1,000 1,000 1,000 a Simply labeling products as containing biotech ingredients does not provide enough information for consumers. Instead of labeling biotechnology ingre- dients, it would be better for food manufacturers, the government, health professionals, and others to pro- vide more details through toll-free phone numbers, brochures and Web sites. References Abbot, Eric. 2000. "Media Coverage of GMOs in the US and the UK: Who's Quoted and What's Said." Paper presented at "Informing the Dialogue" conference, Ithaca, NY. Bollag, Burton. 2000. "Public Pressure Puts a Damper on Biotechnology Research in Europe." Chronicle of Higher Education, April 14, pp. A74, A76. Singer, Eleanor, Amy Coming, and Mark Lamias. 1998. "The Polls-Trends: Genetic Testing, Engineering, and Therapy." Public Opinion Quarterly 62(4):633-64. Specter, Michael. 2000. "The Pharmageddon Riddle: Did Monsanto Just Want More Profits, or Did It Want to Save the World?" New Yorker, April 10, pp. 58-71. Stiftung Warentest. 2000. "Biss ins Ungewisse: Gentechnik in Lebensmitteln" (Taking a bite from the unknown: Genetically engineered food products). Stiftung Warentest, no. 8 (August), pp. 79-84. This content downloaded from 128.42.202.150 on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:08:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and ConditionsArticle Contentsp. [267]p. 268p. 269p. 270p. 271p. 272p. 273p. 274p. 275p. 276p. 277p. 278p. 279p. 280p. 281Issue Table of ContentsThe Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 2 (Summer, 2001), pp. 157-294Front MatterErrata: The Effects of Response Rate Changes on the Index of Consumer Sentiment [pp. -]Errata: Reading Mixed Signals: Ambivalence in American Public Opinion about Government [pp. -]Tracking Issue Attention: Specifying the Dynamics of the Public Agenda [pp. 157-177]Who Votes by Mail? A Dynamic Model of the Individual-Level Consequences of Voting-by-Mail Systems [pp. 178-197]Economic Class and Popular Support for Franklin Roosevelt in War and Peace [pp. 198-229]Web Survey Design and Administration [pp. 230-253]Research NoteUrban Chinese Perceptions of Threats from the United States and Japan [pp. 254-266]The PollsTrends: Attitudes about Agricultural Biotechnology and Genetically Modified Organisms [pp. 267-281]Book ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 282-284]Review: untitled [pp. 284-286]Review: untitled [pp. 287-292]Review: untitled [pp. 292-294]Back Matter

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