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Research Finds Extreme Opponents of GM Foods Know the Least but Think They Know the Most
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: January 21, 2019 06:12AM

People with the most extreme views opposing genetically modified (GM) foods
think they know most about GM food science, but actually, they know the
least, according to new research published in Nature Human Behaviour. The
research was a collaboration between researchers at the Leeds School of
Business at CU Boulder, Washington University in St. Louis, the University
of Toronto, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Marketing and psychology researchers asked more than 2,000 U.S. and European
adults for their opinions about GM foods. The surveys asked the respondents
how well they thought they understood GM foods, then tested how much they
actually knew with a battery of true-false questions on general science and
genetics. The researchers found that despite the scientific consensus that
GM foods are safe for human consumption, many people oppose their use. More
than 90 percent of the respondents reported some level of opposition to GM

"This result is perverse, but is consistent with previous research on the
psychology of extremism," said Philip Fernbach, the study's lead author and
professor of marketing at the Leeds School of Business. "Extreme views often
stem from people feeling they understand complex topics better than they

Nicholas Light, a Leeds School of Business PhD candidate in marketing
suggests that changing people's minds first requires them to appreciate what
they do not know. He added that without this first step, educational
interventions might not work very well to bring people in line with the
scientific consensus.


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