Welcome to the blog for Colgate University's interdisciplinary course on food. This is the place to keep up with what students in the course are experiencing in their work at Common Thread Community Farm and through their everyday encounters with food.

Monday, December 5, 2016

How America Views "Organic" and "GMO Free"

            When I was home on Thanksgiving break I was listening to NPR and they were doing a segment on issues pertaining to food.  One of the stories was an interview with an entomologist who believes the future diet for people around the world will involve bugs as the main source of protein.  His argument is that we are not sustainably producing meat, and therefore eventually people will need to turn to other sources of protein, such as bugs.  This interview was thought provoking and fascinating  (and slightly unappetizing).  I suggest listening to the whole segment here.  However another story that caught my attention was about sugar consumption in the US.  As shown in previous blog posts, I find this issue really interesting.  I only caught the tail end of that story so I went to NPR.org a few days ago to hunt down the rest of that podcast.  Instead I saw an article titled, “AmericansDon’t Trust Scientists’ Take On Food Issue.  Given class discussions on the debate surrounding GMO and organics I thought this could be relevant for the whole class.
            The article was reporting on a recent Pew Research study, which measured attitudes towards current food issues like genetic modification, organic food, and eating healthy in general.  The article outlined the three major findings from the survey.  The first finding was that people do not care what scientists say about GMOs.  Three quarters of those studied believe GMOs are bad for you, while, “Only 14 percent's beliefs match the reality — that "almost all" scientists agree that GM foods are safe to eat.”  This connects to the idea that GMOs might actually be a good thing for agriculture, however public perception demonizes GMOs.  Therefore I think there is a need to educate people on the realities of GMOs, especially if it is a potentially positive direction for the agriculture industry. 
            The next finding was that the respondents’ food sympathies do not necessarily align with their political sympathies.  The author explained this to mean that equal share Republicans and Democrats believe that GMOs are bad for you.  However they also found that Democrats are more likely to believe that organic food is healthier.  The survey also found that regardless of class people believe organic foods are healthier at equal rates, yet the wealthy are more likely to buy organic.  This finding reaffirms discussions we have had about the accessibility of the organic food movement, and it confirms the belief that the movement is really only available for upper-middle class consumers.
            Lastly, the survey found that support for organic food and organic practices is far more mainstream than support for non-GMO foods.  This could be explained by the fact that there is not as much public understanding about what GMO means. In addition the non-GMO movement is in its early stages as compared to the organics food movement.  I thought that this article gave some unique background on the larger American public’s opinions on the issues that we have spending time discussing in class.  We have been discussing the issues in depth with a substantial understanding of all sides of the arguments.  However the survey shows that with this deep understanding we are in the minority.  It suggests that understanding about these food movements is still limited.  However given that, they are movements that are becoming more prominent in public discourse and are expected to gain even more traction.     


No comments:

Post a Comment