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We're Cautious About Genetically Engineered Foods

A recent NPR study conducted by Thompson Reuters highlights the uncertainty that many Americans have about genetically modified foods.  

This study concluded that: 

  • 75% of those surveyed were unsure about what genetically modified food is
  • 64% did not know if genetically modified food is safe
  • 9 out of 10 Americans surveyed believe that if a food has been genetically modified, that information should be stated on the label

Genetically modified foods come from a source whose DNA has been genetically altered using genetic engineering techniques. The goal of genetically modifying foods is to create stronger, larger, more nutritious and/or faster producing sources of food.

Genetically modified foods are mainly cultivated in North America and have been available in grocery stores since the 1990s. 

Even though a majority of Americans want genetically modified foods to be labeled, the FDA does not currently require this labeling. 

Deborah Whitman, in her article Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?, explains that the EPA, FDA, and USDA all have regulatory powers over genetically modified foods. This shared oversight means that any movement toward requiring food labeling in the United States will require significant policy changes and new legislation.

Even though they are wary of what genetically modified food is and if it is safe, most Americans are still willing to eat genetically modified foods from plant sources.