Anti-GMO attitudes study Nature 2019

Submitted by Joel O’Bryan, PhD

Screen Shot 2019-01-26 at 10.15.01 PMScreen Shot 2019-01-26 at 10.15.01 PMFrom NPR on-line, there is this news item:

“People Strongly Against GMOs Had Shakier Understanding Of Food Science, Study Finds”

January 26, 2019 7:00 AM ET

“People who most intensely oppose genetically modified food think they know a lot about food science, but actually know the least, according to a peer-reviewed paper published in January in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.”


“But, she said, consumers often are less likely to learn the facts when it’s something they feel very passionate about, “especially if they feel like it’s challenging their moral values.””

My note: Where have we heard something similar to this? (see below)

The NPR story is from this Nature Human Behaviour original research article:

“Extreme opponents of genetically modified foods know the least but think they know the most”


There is widespread agreement among scientists that genetically modified foods are safe to consume and have the potential to provide substantial benefits to humankind. However, many people still harbour concerns about them or oppose their use. In a nationally representative sample of US adults, we find that as extremity of opposition to and concern about genetically modified foods increases, objective knowledge about science and genetics decreases, but perceived understanding of genetically modified foods increases. Extreme opponents know the least, but think they know the most. Moreover, the relationship between self-assessed and objective knowledge shifts from positive to negative at high levels of opposition. Similar results were obtained in a parallel study with representative samples from the United States, France and Germany, and in a study testing attitudes about a medical application of genetic engineering technology (gene therapy). This pattern did not emerge, however, for attitudes and beliefs about climate change.


Although the article at first appears to have a Nature paywall, Nature makes it publicly available (via PDF format) with this shortened URL:

which itself is in a Supplements Info page from the Nature site:

My comments:

I think it is likely the authors were forced by editors and reviewers to include the word “Extreme” as a modifier in the headline title. In their abstract, they noted it wasn’t categorical, but rather a continuum of “objective knowledge about science and genetics decreases,” correlates with “opposition to and concern about genetically modified foods.” So of course, that equates with more extreme anti-GMO one is, the less they actually know.

So it is not just the ‘extreme opponents’ to GMO, but nearly all opponents increasingly show less and less scientific (objective) objective knowledge. Where else do we see this?

And of significant Note:  the authors were so concerned that climate alarmism “deniers” (like me) would use their results to show how ignorant climate change believers are in general of science they had to add the disclaimer.  The disclaimer (in bold, last sentence of Abstract) was probably insisted on by the editors/reviewers. Why was negative result (on Climate Change) which was not the focus of the study (GMO food attitudes) the final conclusion line of a study abstract?

Fortunately, the authors of this GMO attitudes study references the Kahan (2012) paper, where that study found: “Members of the public with the highest degrees of science literacy and technical reasoning capacity were not the most concerned about climate change.”(ref: 1)

In using that Kahan (2012) reference in their Discussion, the authors wrote,

When an issue becomes polarized, people’s attitudes reflect affiliation with their ideological group and not individual knowledge. That is, individuals subscribe to whatever their in-group believes, regardless of how much they know about the issue.

Such an indictment of Liberal academia if there ever were one. The climate change faithful with academic institutions today fit this exactly. In that one statement (in italics), they explain why almost all of Liberal academia must find itself in support of Climate Change alarmism despite any objective knowledge to the contrary, simply because their group affiliation in politically Liberal (Democratic Party aligned faculty) dominated environment that is today’s Liberal-dominated universities and colleges. And spreading a fear of climate change, climate doom, and imparting an alarmism of climate existential threat most certainly depends on a general public “who knows the least” in any objective measure of science knowledge, even though these authors took pains to try to distance themselves from that glaring reality.

Ref: (1) The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks.   Dan M. Kahan, Ellen Peters, Maggie Wittlin, Paul Slovic, Lisa Larrimore Ouellette, Donald Braman & Gregory Mandel. Nature Climate Change volume 2, pages 732–735 (2012).

via Watts Up With That?

January 29, 2019 at 04:06AM

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