Consumers get “grossed out” by genetic modification of foods despite the practice having been in place for more than 20 years, according to research from Washington University in St. Louis.
A survey of consumer attitudes revealed strongly negative attitudes toward genetically modified organisms, even for purposes like insect resistance. Results were reported last month in the Annual Review of Nutrition.
“In some contexts, people view nature and naturalness as sacred and genetically engineered food as a violation of naturalness,” the authors wrote. “We also suggest that for many people these perceptions of naturalness and attitudes toward genetically engineered food follow the sympathetic magical law of contagion, in which even minimal contact between a natural food and an unnatural entity, either a scientist or a piece of foreign DNA, pollutes or contaminates the natural entity.”
One of the authors, assistant professor of marketing Sydney Scott, remarked that consumers considering DNA alteration to be “yucky.”