Advancements in agricultural science have resulted in the development of genetically modified organism (GMO) foods. The major cause behind the development is to curb meals shortages in the world. However, the public have expressed different concerns on the GMO foods; some rejecting and others accepting GMO foods. This lookup paper aimed at evaluating the level of public knowledge on the GMO foods. Further, the paper sought to take a look at the perceptions of the public on the GMO foods. The researcher analysed 30 sources of academic information along with books, journals, and websites. The results revealed there is minimal public expertise on the GMO foods. Again, the public negatively perceives GMO food associating them with food borne diseases and environmental threats. The results also revealed that the public would like the GMO foods to be labelled so that they can avoid purchase of GMO foods.
Justification of the Problem4
Current Understanding of the GMO Foods6
Perceptions of the Genetically Modified Organsim Foods.7
Public Concern on Genetically Modified Organism Foods8
Negativity of the Genetically Modified Organism Foods9
Level of Knowledge about the Genetically Modified Organism Foods10
Beneficial Opinion of the Public about the GMO Foods11
Needs of food Labelling for the Genetically Modified Organism Foods12
Recommendation for Further Research13
Public Awareness on Genetically Modified Organism Foods
This research paper aspired to establish the knowledge of the public about genetically modified organism foods. Again, the research paper sought to examine the perceptions of the public on the genetically modified organism foods.
Genetic modification refers to a set of technology that allows for the alteration of the genetic constitution of living things. The resulting combination of several DNAs is said to be genetically modified (Bawa and Anilakumar 2013). The first genetically modified plant was produced in China in 1943 using an antibiotic tobacco plant. After it, scientists produced other genetically modified crops aspiring to reduce the maturity period and boosting plant ability to thrive extreme weather conditions (Gabol et al. 2012).
Genetic modification enhances faster maturity in crops, enhances resistance to viruses, and boosts the ability to thrive extreme weather conditions. Food genetic modification has its rise in the 19th century aimed at combating the food shortage challenges (Nodoushani et al. 2015). Genetically modified organism foods were thought a solution to the food shortage until the concerns of environmental and human safety, food security, ethics, food labelling, poverty reduction, and environmental conservation arose (Grundey and Rimkiene 2012).
Currently, the world food industry has been influenced by the genetic food modification technology (Tas et al. 2015). There is an influx of the genetically modified organism foods in the market. Farmers and food manufacturers have banked on the genetically modified foods as they require low labour and chemical to grow and the yield is slightly larger than that of the non-modified foods.
The influx of GMO foods in the market and the rapid development of genetic modification technology have resulted to concerns and arguments (De mirci 2008). The public and the professionals argue of the health hazards of the genetically modified organism foods. People want to be assured of the quality of the GMO foods and the effect the foods have on their bodies. Therefore, the ultimate aim of this research was to analyse the knowledge of the public on the genetically modified organism foods and examine the public perception of the GMO foods.
Justification of the Problem
According to Bongyu et al. (2009), the development of genetically modified organism foods has been sharply criticized by the consumers and concerns of food labelling are prevalent in the food market. Despite the efforts to curb food shortages through the use of genetically modified organism foods, the public and the professionals feel that the GMO foods are health hazardous. Nodoushani et al. (2015) argue that the genetically modified organism foods have a high concentration of chemicals, which pose a risk factor to the human health. As a result, consumer acceptance of the GMO foods differ around the world based on the level of knowledge of the GMO foods. Some people have refused to consume the GMO foods while others have no issue eating the foods.
Therefore, there is the need to evaluate the reason behind the rejection of the GMO foods. Does awareness of the GMO foods influence the perception of the public on the GMO foods? Again, there is a need to explore the acceptance of the GMO foods on the areas where they are consumed, is it that the consumers are not aware of the GMO foods or they are just comfortable with them?
To find out the current understanding of the genetically modified organism foods
To examine the feeling of the public on the genetically modified organism foods
To find out whether the public is concerned about the genetically modified organism foods
To examine whether the public is negative about the genetically modified organism foods
To evaluate the level of knowledge about the genetically modified organism foods
To examine the beneficial opinion of the public about the GMO foods
To examine the needs of food labelling for the genetically modified organism foods
The researcher would have loved to analyse voluminous data on the public awareness of the genetically modified organism foods but was only able to analyse data from thirty sources due to space and time limits. Again, the researcher would have loved to step out into the field and collect the citizen view of the genetically modified organism foods but the research methodology limited the research to analysing existing literature.
The researcher reviewed data from scholarly sources such as websites, academic journals, and books to come up with this conclusive report on public awareness of the genetically modified organism foods.
Current Understanding of the GMO Foods
Figure 1: current understanding of GMO foods
According to Siipi (2015), majority of the public have only heard of the GMO foods concept but lack a clear understanding of it. There is one percent of the population that have never heard of genetically modified organism foods. Others have heard it vie internet, television, radio, newspapers, and at school. The public is willing to purchase food products without considering whether it is genetically modified or natural due to lack of an understanding of the GMO food products (Tas et al. 2015).
Radas et al. (2008) suggests that only a small population is aware of the genetically modified organism foods. However, the population has no skills of differentiating the GMO foods from the natural foods, thus their knowledge of the existence of GMO foods does not influence the choice of their consumption. Again, majority of those who have the concept of the GMO foods have heard of it in the media but did not pay close attention to the details (Zhu and Xie 2015). Therefore, their skills do not influence their choice of purchase.
Basing on the various results on the understanding of the genetically modified organism foods, the public are not so knowledgeable about the GMO foods. A high population has an average understanding while even the aware pupulation do not attain an average of 5o%. Therefore, there is the need to equip the public with an understanding of the genetically modified organism foods through various media accesseible to each target population.
Perceptions of the Genetically Modified Organsim Foods.
Figure 2: consumer perception of GMO foods
According to De mirci (2008), majority of the public have a very negative perception of the genetically modified organism foods. A greater percentage thought that the genetically modified foods are hormonal foods thus have an effect on the internal body functioning. A higher population also believed that the modification of the genes alters the quality of the produced product. Thus, the genetically modified organism foods are of low quality and the chemicals used in the modification process results to illnesses (BusinessPundit 2011).
In addition, a greater population believe that the genetically modified foods do not meet the standards of food security (Hemphill and Banerjee 2015). Therefore, such a population looks out to ensure they do not shop for genetically modified foods. Sunstein (2017) claims that most consumers perceive organic food products as ecologically clean due to the lack of preservatives, additives, and genetically modified organisms. In addition, GMO foods were said to be unfriendly to the environment as their origin cannot be clearly established (GD 2011).
Generally, consumers’ perception of the genetically modified foods was negative with the concern of health wellbeing in the future. However, a small percentage was positive about the genetically modified foods claiming that they provide a food variety. Again, there was a percentage that were positive about the GMO foods claiming that they add to the farmers’ profits, the products have a better appearance, and that the GMO foods contributes to the food security of the underdeveloped regions (Asante 2008).
Public Concern on Genetically Modified Organism Foods
Figure 3: public concern on GMO foods
Majority of the studies show that the public is concerned about the genetically modified organism foods. Concerns of safety, tampering with Mother Nature, viability of the GMO plants on the environment, potential risks arising from disease resistant plants, and health risks of the GMO foods are in question (Bruschi et al. 2015).
There are controversies around the genetically modified foods on whether they should be labelled and how they should be labelled. The public is also concerned of a need that the agricultural biotechnology should address the effectiveness of the genetically modified foods (Bruschi et al 2015). The public was concerned of the health concerns of the recombinant technology; are the GMO foods friendly to the natural environment. Some people doubted whether the pest-resistant and the herbicide-resistant plants were friendly on the soil (Hemphill and Banerjee 2015). Such consumers argued that if the GMO plants are cultivated on a large scale, then they will exert pressure on the natural habitat, which would lead to an emergence of resistant insects in the years to come. The consumers added that the frequent need of spraying the GMO plants would result to the development of tolerant weed, which would increase the farming costs.
In addition, some consumers expressed concerns of uncertainty in the pest-resistant characteristic of the GMO foods. Such consumers expressed their fear that the GMO foods may lead to development of resistant weeds, which would increase the cost of farming (Moye et al. 2009). Again, the pest-resistant crops would endanger the lives of positive pests that enhance soil fertility. As a result, farmers would have to depend on manure and fertilizers to boost soil fertility in the future.
A great population was also concerned of the health risks associated with allergens, toxins, and genetic hazards of the GMO foods. The consumers wondered if the inserted genes would promote health wellbeing. For example combination of proteins in GMOs can result to unpredictable allergenic impacts (Premanandh 2011).
Negativity of the Genetically Modified Organism Foods
Figure 4: negativity of GMO foods
The searches analysed revealed that majority of the consumers are very negative about the genetically modified organism foods. According to Brewer and Rojas (2008), most of the consumers are negative about the pesticide residues, preservatives, and the hormones in meat and poultry. Again, the consumers are negative about the GMO foods microbiological issues, a reason why they would prefer organic foods. Such consumers believe that the recombination of genes contaminate foods (Strauss 2008).
Some studies indicated that the fear of chemicals and the novelty of the production outweigh the negativity posed by the microbiological combinations. According to Brewer and Rojas (2008), majority of the consumers are negative about the characteristic of the GMO foods that make them pest-resistant. Given the faster maturity of the GMO plants, such consumers believe that there are residuals pesticides that make GMO foods unsafe for human consumption.
Daboub et al. (2012) suggest that consumers are willing to pay more to acquire the organic foods, which is influenced by the negativity they hold about the genetically modified organism foods. Again, consumers believe that the GMO foods are rich in fats and cholesterol, thus seriously hazardous to health. Such consumers avoid GMO foods and would be comfortable skipping a meal that taking a GMO product (Trefis 2016). In addition, consumers were negative of the imported foods unless they were inspected to ensure no traces of genes modification. Such consumers believed that the producer of the genetically modified organism foods cannot consume them, thus they prefer exporting them (Tan and Epley 2014).
Level of Knowledge about the Genetically Modified Organism Foods
Figure 5: level of GMO foods knowledge
According to Brewer and Rojas, M (2008), Amin et al. (2011), and Bawa and Anilakumar (2013), there is no enough information about GMO foods. Majority of the consumers remain uninformed thus they hold a negative perception of the GMO foods with no reason. Others just hold on assumptions that technology is a threat to the natural environment, thus they do not want to consume the genetically modified foods (De mirci 2008). In addition, there is a small percentage that have not even heard of the genetically modification technology. As a result, they cannot differentiate between the organic and the GMO foods (Nodoushani et al. 2015).
The novel process of producing genetically produced foods has received little coverage by scholars, a reason why majority are still unaware of the agricultural technology (Grundey and Rimkiene 2012). In addition, a good percentage of the existing knowledge is just a generalization without concrete facts. Again, most of the scientists and GMO businessmen have released some information about the genetically modified foods to market their products. Hence, the accuracy of such information can be questions as the source seeks to persuade consumers to purchase their products (Holck et al. 2009).
Bruschi et al. (2015) laments there are numerous sources of information on the GMO foods but the public is too busy to go through the materials. The society largely depends on the social media, television, and the radio as the source of information. Only a few pay attention to newspapers and academic journals yet they are a rich source of GMO foods information (Tas et al. 2015). As a result, the public lacks enough knowledge of the GMO foods, which affects their perception of the foods.
Lack of enough knowledge about the genetically modified foods is the most urgent need for the GMO foods consumers (Premanandh 2011). Most of the citizens are not aware of the impacts of the GMO foods on health. As a result, they just purchase the GMO foods because they are cheaper, which has increased the rates of food borne diseases (Grundey and Rimkiene 2012).
According to Mei-Fang (2011), women are the largest population ragging behind as far as the knowledge of the GMO foods is concerned. Women are preoccupied with families and self-life, which denies them time to update themselves on the technological advancements. As a result, most women are not aware of the GMO foods and would just consume them without noticing the differences from organic foods.
Beneficial Opinion of the Public about the GMO Foods
Figure 6: beneficial opinion about GMO foods
Most of the public is not any positive about the genetically modified foods. Despite the fact that agricultural technology aspired to curb food shortages by developing the GMO foods, the public have remained negative about the GMO products (Siipi 2015). In the nations where food shortage issues are rampant, for example Africa, the citizens are still negative about the GMO foods (Asante 2008). The Africans are in a dilemma whether to use the GMO foods or to incur the high costs of the organic foods. Most of them prefer to purchase the organic foods however expensive it is (Asante 2008).
The famers are very positive of the GMO foods when it comes to farming but remain negative when it comes to consumption (Radas et al. 2008). The benefits accrued to farmers by the use of GMO foods are faster maturity, ability to thrive extreme weather conditions, and the cheaper cost of farming influenced by the ability of GMOs to resist pests and weeds. However, most studies reveal that farmers reject the GMO food claiming that the shorter period of maturity retains some pesticides in the produce (Bruschi et al. 2015).
The society is also very negative about the environmental hazards of the genetically modified foods. Zhu and Xie (2015) argue that GMOs have ecological and genetic effects on the natural environment. Genetically modified plants reduce soil fertility by killing microbial animals that live within the soil.
The consumers are negative of the impact of the genetically modified foods of the body. Although doctors may prescribe some GMO foods rich in the deficient nutrients, the consumers are less likely to take the GMOs claiming genetically modified foods are responsible for other illnesses that may be expensive to treat (InvestorIdeas.com 2015).
Needs of food Labelling for the Genetically Modified Organism Foods
Figure 7: GMO foods labelling
Most of the consumers indicated they would like food labelling on the genetically modified foods. However, a small proportion felt that labelling would not make any difference as there is no knowledge of the GMO foods (Sunstein 2017). GMOs should be labelled as they pose a serious threat to the environment and human health. Therefore, there is the need to label the GMO foods so that the consumers will be aware they are risking their lives and their environment.
According to Tan and Epley (2014), there is a need for labelling GMO foods as they are associated with risk factors to the general health of the consumer. Further, the GMO foods are attributed to development of food borne diseases thus labelling should be a clear indication that the consumer is willing to ingest them (Andersen 2010). In addition, labelling of the GMO foods ensures that the consumer voluntarily subscribes to the risks that arise from the intake of the GMO food (GD 2011).
The paper established that majority of the people lack a deeper understanding of the GMO foods. Among the people that have heard about the GMO foods, most of them lack an understanding of the GMO concept. In addition, the society hold a very negative perception of the GMOs; GMO foods are responsible for the food borne disease, leads to health complications, and are a threat to the environment. As a result, most of the people are not willing to purchase the GMO food even if they are cheaper than the organic foods.
Again, most of the people reject the reason why the GMOs were developed. The public prefers to purchase substitutes to the GMO foods instead of buying the GMO foods meant to curb the issue of food shortage. Moreover, the public would need to have the GMO foods labelled so that they can avoid buying them.
However, a small percentage demonstrates acceptance of the GMO food. They argue that the GMOs mature faster and thrive in extreme climatic conditions, thus can be used to fight drought. Again, supporters claim that gene combinations in GMOs result to nutritious foods that enhance health wellbeing.
Recommendation for Further Research
The research revealed that there is minimal knowledge of the GMOs. Therefore, researchers should seek to examine what could be done to increase public awareness of the GMO foods. Again, the researcher specifically researched on the public awareness of the GMO foods. Further researches should be conducted to examine the reasons behind the rejection or acceptance of the GMO foods.
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