Opinion Differences between the Public and Scientists

The spring semester is in full swing, and in our Societal Issues class we’re starting to dig deeper into class topics such as genetic engineering.  A recent PEW report reveals that there are wide gaps in opinion between the general public and scientists on several topics.

That’s not surprising.  What I found most surprising is that the largest opinion difference centers on genetically modified foods.

Only 37% of the general public in the survey agreed that genetically modified foods are safe to eat, compared with 88% of the scientist members of the American Association of the Academy of Sciences (AAAS).

Why such a wide gap in opinion?  Is it an association between genetically modified foods and corporations such as Monsanto?  Is it the ominous moniker, “genetically modified food?”  Should plant scientists provide more education on the topic?

I also found it interesting that there was general agreement among the public and scientists that “the space station has been a good investment for the U.S. – a difference of only 4%.  I’m glad that space exploration is still held in high regard among the general public.

In the case of genetically modified foods – is it too late to change public opinion?

More info

PEW Research Center report

AAAS Editorial in Science (Jan. 30, 2015)






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