Genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are rising to be one of the top concerns among consumers. Why? The list of reasons why consumers are concerned seems to be growing as well. It varies from ideas like, food safety scares, non-visible evidence to consumers, the idea that “organic” is healthier, and the complexity and confusion between GMO’s and non-GMO’s is too much for the average consumer. So, where is all the confusion and misconceptions with GMO’s coming from? Lack of education and knowledge on GMO’s is the answer.
The picture above provided by the website, http://www.justlabelit.org provides a “picture” of what consumers want. They want labels. Both major political parties (Democrats & Republicans) want labeling as well as a high majority of the population. However, does labeling solve the problem about how consumers feel about GMO’s? Labeling will not solve everything most likely because some labels are not regulated or people are not familiar with the science behind it regardless of what the label says. Education on the subject needs to be a top priority for people on the pro GMO side.
One main common misconception most consumers believe about GMO’s is that they are unhealthy for us. However, there are not any known long term effects that can be traced back to GMO’s due to the fact that no such study has been made. This brings us back to the labeling; not labeling products causes consumers to think that proper testing has not taken place, which in turn provides negative feedback to GMO’s. Another common misconception is tying in GMO’s with “corporation.” Yes, some corporations are associated with GMO’s, but so are other organizations and universities. There are individuals who are Anti-corporation and do not trust big corporation or anything associated with them. An example of this would be GMO’s, even if they do not know what they are or what they do, they relate corporation and GMO’s together and assume they are harmful.
On Jimmy Kimmel Live a crew was sent out to a local market to see what people think about GMO’s. Responses varied from “because they’re not good for you”, “I’m not really sure” and avoiding them in their diet because of the effects on the body. When asked what a GMO is responses were “Genetically Manufactured….O”, “General Modified Ingredient”, “I don’t know, I know it’s some corn bad stuff”, and many others. We cannot continue to allow people to go uneducated about GMO’s any longer.
So how do we educate all consumers about GMO’s and prevent them from thinking the way they did on Jimmy Kimmel Live? The first step needs to come from the pro GMO side. Once interest in educating people is shown, anti-GMO individuals, as well as neutral people will begin to show interest in the subject as well. Advertisements like commercials or possibly a TV documentary could be a way to get people interested in learning more about GMO’s. Proof of accurate and sufficient testing as well as product labeling on food would also help consumers feel more comfortable about GMO’s. This is my way to reach out to people, educate yourself! Don’t just assume or believe what others are telling you!
I am currently a senior at Western Illinois University. I grew up just outside of Rio, IL on a family farm. I have worked on my family farm, as well as getting my CDL to work for the Rio Township in the summer, and working for Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM) during the winter. I received my Associate’s Degree from Carl Sandburg College in December of 2013 and will be receiving my Bachelor’s Degree from Western Illinois University in May of 2016.