The battle to save the multi-billion dollar citrus industry in the U.S. from
the incurable disease called Huanglongbing or HLB, has prompted scientists
to explore the possibility of breeding genetically mosified (GM) trees that
are resistant to the disease. However, given the controversy over the safety
of GM food, scientists need to know whether producers will adopt this
technology and whether shoppers will buy and consume GM citrus fruit. A
recent study has some encouraging answers.
A team of scientists from several universities surveyed a representative
sample of U.S. consumers to better understand the consumers' attitudes about
GM food and agriculture. About half of the 1,050 people surveyed had
positive attitudes toward GM science. Nearly 37 percent of the consumers
surveyed felt neutral about GM science and 14 percent had negative
perceptions of it.
The survey also assessed the potential impact of the "spiral of silence"
theory, a hypothesis on public opinion formation where people who are highly
vocal about their opinions in public encourage others with similar views to
speak out while effectively silencing those who hold opposite views.
However, the researchers found that those who rejected GM science were more
vocal about their opinion while others held opposite views. People who were
positive about GM technology were less likely to speak out when they
believed others supported it too.