Contrary to popular belief

12.09.2013
Nature Biotechnology 31, 767 (2013) doi:10.1038/nbt.2700
Published online 10 September 2013
 
Three decades after transgenes were first introduced into plants, why do so many consumers remain so negative about genetically modified (GM) food?
 
GM food has an uncanny ability to spook consumers. It does not matter that many of us have been consuming GM cornflakes, sweet corn, starches and sugars in processed food for over a decade. It does not matter that no adverse health effects have been recorded from eating them. Nor does it matter that august agencies, such as the World Health Organization, the US National Academy of Sciences, the European Commission or the American Medical Association, have come out with ringing endorsements of their safety. The fact is, negative attitudes remain entrenched and widespread. And changing them will require a concerted and long-term effort to develop GM foods that clearly provide convincing benefits to consumers—something that seed companies have conspicuously failed to do over the past decade.
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Public perception of GM food will not become more positive overnight. But as more products meet unmet needs, small victories may be won. In the end, necessity may turn out to be the mother of acceptance.