Some Americans are uneasy about GE foods

February 20, 2006

Although more than two-thirds of food sold in the United States contains some genetically engineered crop, scientists say Americans are split on the issue.

"Depending on whom you ask, the technology is either beneficial or has negative effects on health and environment," said James Shanahan, a Cornell University associate professor of communication and lead researcher of the study.

Generally, women and non-Caucasians perceived a higher risk in using biotechnology in food production and, politically, Republicans showed more overall support for GE foods than others, said Shanahan.

The researchers also found people who pay more attention to the news tend to support GE food more than those who don't.

"Overall, research shows GE foods are safe and effective, though some people still harbor reservations about it," said Shanahan. "I suspect the more people are exposed to the news, the more aware they are of biotechnology and, therefore, more supportive of it."

John Besley, a Cornell doctoral candidate, presented the findings Sunday, during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The third co-author is Erik Nisbet, also a Cornell doctoral candidate.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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