Monday, December 14, 2015

GMO's In America

Problem Statement:
GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) are banned/restricted in over 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and every country in the European Union. In America, however, GMO’s are widely used in America and were approved by the government. GMO’s were approved by the government because of studies conducted that “prove” the safety of GMO’s. The studies, however, were conducted by the same people that created GMO’s and that profit from the sale of them. There is a record of more than 2,000 studies which prove that GMO’s are not detrimental to human health, yet there are still many questions about whether they are safe or not, regardless of the extensive number of studies done. 53% of Americans know almost nothing of GMO’s. One fourth say they have never even heard of them. A survey was conducted, and 59% said there should be a label on food products as to whether they are genetically modified, even though most of the participants knew very little about GMO’s; the term “genetically modified” have a negative connotation on its own. Only 26% of americans believe they have consumed a product that has been genetically modified, even though 80% of processed food contains GMO’s. There are no such laws that force food products to have a label stating that they contain GMO’s. On a positive note, GMO’s can, in the future, greatly reduce the use of pesticide. There is also proof that GMO’s have the ability to make food more nutritious. GMO’s can help adapt crops so they can survive drought and an increase in pests. Despite the evidence of GMO’s being beneficial, it is still a subject that is highly debated today.

Research Question:
Does the general public know enough about GMO's to determine whether they are beneficial or detrimental?

Data Collection:
For my data collection, I created a survey asking people of all ages various questions pertaining to GMO’s and various beliefs/facts associated with them. For example, questions pertaining to the dangers and/or benefits of GMO’s were asked, as well as questions that ask opinions about their safety and whether or not they should be legal. Questions were also asked to find out how well each survey taker understood GMO’s and the initial research question was asked in order to find out if there is enough information about GMO’s available to the public in order to truly decide whether or not they are beneficial or detrimental. The survey is linked here.

Data Analysis:
After reviewing the responses to my survey, I have obtained a lot of information.

  • When asked how well they understood GMO’s, only one of 26 participants said they understood them very well, and this same participant was very pro-GMO’s.
  • 18 of 26 participants said there is not enough information available to the public pertaining to GMO’s and how safe or unsafe they are, while 5 were unsure and only 3 said there was enough information.
  • Surveyors were nearly split when asked about how safe GMO’s are. 50% of participants said that GMO’s are not at all safe, while 42.3% said they were somewhat safe and 7.7% said they were very safe.
  • When it came to the check box question, the lowest number of checks per box belonged to the statements that supported GMO’s. The most frequently checked box was checked by 88.5% of the participants, and the statement read that GMO’s effect animals that eat the crop negatively.
  • 68% of the surveyors believe it is illegal to leave out information as to whether or not a product contains GMO’s on the food label, but it is actually legal to leave out whether or not a product is made with GMO’s.
  • Only 23% of the participants believe there have been over 2,000 studies proving the benefits of GMO’s, while 76% believe it is false, but it is actually true.
  • 84.6% of the participants were in the age range 10-20 years old, the oldest participant in the age range of 40-50 years is very pro-GMO’s while most younger ages were very against GMO’s.
  • Though most participants were very against GMO’s, 50% of these participants said they have minimal understanding of GMO’s

Findings:
Through the data I gathered with my data collection survey, I have found out that there is not enough information about GMO’s available to the public in order for them to properly determine their level of safeness. Almost all participants that had answers corresponding to GMO’s being detrimental also said there is not enough information on GMO’s available to the public. Five were unsure and three believed there was enough information, leaving 18 people believing there was not enough. Only 23.1% of participants knew that 80% of processed foods contain GMO’s which also shows a lack of knowledge and understand of just how often they are used. 68% of participants believe it is illegal not to mention whether a product contains GMO’s on the label, though it is indeed perfectly legal, once again showing how little the public knows about GMO’s. However, most participants were in the age range of 10-20, which may show that younger people are more involved with GMO’s and have stronger opinions of them. Overall, the data shows that there is not enough information on GMO’s and their safety readily available and easily accessible to the public.


References:
  • “GMO Facts: Frequently Asked Questions”. Non GMO Project, Web. n.d

  • Entine, John. “29-year study of trillions of meals shows GE crops do not harm food-producing animals, humans”. Genetic Literacy Project, Web. 10 September 2014
  • Branson, Ken. “Most Americans Pay Little Attention to Genetically Modified Foods, Survey Says”. Rutgers Today, Web. 1 November 2013
  • Battelle Staff. “Five Good Reasons To Support GMO’s”. The Battelle Insider, Web. 27 March 2015

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