Agricultural Practices Attitudes and Perceived Risk Study


Though the existing literature does not provide evidence to suggest that genetically modified foods are worse for humans and the environment than organically grown foods, a general tone exists from the public expressing primarily distrust and negativity towards genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pesticides, and growth hormones. This can result in fear/distrust around food, damage to the agriculture industry, and misinformed nutrition advice, leading to further negative outcomes. The purpose of this project was to formally understand the consumer’s attitudes and perceived risk in relation to their knowledge about common agricultural practices, specifically genetic engineering of food. Additionally, the project aimed to identify if there is a correlation between the occurrence of disordered eating/dieting and knowledge, attitudes, and perceived risk of genetically modified organisms. One hundred thirty participants volunteered to take a survey which gathered basic demographic information, prevalence of dieting/disordered eating and eating disorder diagnosis, general knowledge of GMOs and their attitudes and perceived risk in relation to human health, nutrition, and environmental impact. The results provide trends of high self-confidence in knowledge about GMOs, moderate-to-low actual knowledge, neutral-to-negative overall attitudes, and moderate-to-high overall perceived risk. The trends suggest that increasing levels of inaccurate knowledge on the topic of GMOs correlate with increasing negative attitudes towards GMOs. Those diagnosed with an eating disorder reported the highest prevalence of fear of GMOS, followed by those who engaged in dieting or disordered eating. The evidence gives way to the idea that individuals who have a higher involvement in following diets or engaging in disordered eating behaviors are more likely to feel fearful of agriculture- and food-related practices. Based on the findings of this study, a call for improved education dissemination strategies is indicated.



Genetically modified organisms, Consumer attitudes, Agricultural practices, Eating disorders