A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Survey polled Americans about GMO and organic foods and the importance of healthy eating. This NPR report highlights key findings of this survey, including:
- Many Americans don’t believe that GMOs are safe for consumption and don’t think there is scientific consensus on this issue;
- Food issues are not as politically polarized as climate change and other environmental issues; opinions about GMOs and organic food don’t follow political lines;
- The majority of respondents don’t trust the motives of scientists. As NPR reports:
“According to the survey, Americans feel that research findings are influenced in equal measure by the following factors: the best available scientific evidence; desire to help their industries; and desire to advance their careers. In the view of the public, all of those factors are more important to scientists than concern for the public interest.”
At Hygeia Analytics, we spend a lot of time thinking about Scientific Integrity, so this story hits close to home. And, it’s no wonder such a large segment of the public does not trust scientists when it comes to food safety and nutrition issues. Their track record is shaky at best and unequivocally getting worse.
This is because “special interests” from the biotech industry to those devious organic farmers and food companies have driven public interest science so deep into the forest that its voice is near silent. I have watched this unfold during my career at the intersection of farming and food, science and innovation, and policy and regulation.
Back in the 1980s, science had a respected and generally harmonious voice on the critical issues of the day. But now it’s just a mess, with so many well-funded spin campaigns going on at any time, all of course based on the very “soundest” of science, that the public only gets a headache. I wish I had a formula, or great idea, re turning this around, but I do not.
Dan Charles, “Americans Don’t Trust Scientists’ Take On Food Issues,” December 2, 2016, NPR