As a member of a student research group from the University of Colorado at Boulder, I am concerned with the current discourse over genetic modification. The unnecessarily biased rhetoric of news sources and private entities has left a bitter taste in my mouth. Rather than add to this slurry of questionable information, my group is informing the Boulder community in a way that encourages individual choice.
Genetic modification of food crops has become an extremely contentious issue among consumers. The demand for GMO labeling has never been greater, so a few companies have initiated labeling protocol. Recently, Chipotle disclosed which of their menu items contain genetically modified ingredients, indicating a desire to eliminate GMOs from their offerings. As the first fast-food chain to champion such transparency, Chipotle may be paving the way for nationwide reform of labeling practices. We are pushing CU dining services to follow suit.
In a survey of more than 100 CU students and Boulder community members, we asked a variety of questions to gauge public knowledge and opinion on GMOs. Eighty-three percent of those surveyed know what a GMO is, but only 25 percent support their use in consumables. Many people (46 percent of respondents) are undecided on whether or not GMOs should be in food products. As a test to determine GMO savvy, we asked: “who is Monsanto?” Not surprisingly, 47 percent of respondents did not know that Monsanto produces GMOs. Monsanto has been the target of heated anti-GMO protest, but we would like to address these issues in a much more level-headed manner. The discourse over genetic engineering is clearly a multifaceted debate involving technological concerns and corporate ethics.
Taken as a whole, the results from our survey indicate that a significant portion of consumers do not have sufficient understanding of genetic modification. We hope to highlight and establish resources that will help educate the Boulder community on this issue. Please visit our blog: info4GMO.wordpress.com for more information about GMOs and to post your opinions on the issue.