Survey Says: Many Americans Still Ignorant About Foods — Especially Young Folks

Way back in 2005, we wrote about a survey indicating that Americans' knowledge of some food-related matters was incomplete. A new survey conducted at Michigan State University in July 2017 indicates that little has changed. This survey included 1,059 respondents, aged 18 and up, and was weighted to make them reflective of the US population.

Here are some examples:

Question: How often do you think you consume genetically modified organisms — GMOs?

Only 19 percent of respondents said they thought they consumed them every day. In fact, it's likely that most of us consume some genetically-engineered foods every day since much of the  soy in the United States has been modified to some extent.

Question: Is the following statement true or false — Genetically modified foods have genes and non-genetically modified foods do not. Response is below:

Overall, 37 percent of respondents thought the above statement was true. In fact, except for purified products derived from plants, such as sugar and oils, all foods contain genes, of course, as does every living cell in the world. Good luck finding one that doesn't. Older folks seemed to be considerably more savvy about this basic fact.

Question: How often do you choose organic over non-organic foods?

Nearly one third of respondents (32 percent) replied that they did so either whenever they were available, or always, but only certain items. The survey didn't report the reasoning behind such selections, but presumably the respondents believed that organic foods were somehow better than non-organic ones. Again, there was a clear difference in the ages of those choosing organic vs non-organic, as shown in the chart below:

The results of this survey indicate that younger Americans, those who are so tech-savvy, have been drinking the "GMO Kool-Aid" about foods provided by marketers of organic products and scare-mongers. Older people seem to be more in tune with scientifically accurate information about foods. We apparently have a long way to go before the majority of the American public can be said to be scientifically literate about food and let science inform their choices.