August 12, 2004
North Dakota Shoppers Unaware of Genetically Modified Foods
Even though grocery stores carry a number of genetically modified food products, North Dakotans know very little about them.
Sixty-four percent of the North Dakotans questioned in a recent survey didn’t know what genetically modified organisms are. Even after the questioner told them, only 37 percent said genetically modified food is available at grocery stores although it is estimated that up to 70 percent of items on grocery store shelves contain genetically modified ingredients.
These are among the findings in a 26-page report on North Dakota shoppers’ perceptions about genetically modified organisms and food. Cheryl Wachenheim, an associate professor of agribusiness and applied economics at North Dakota State University in Fargo, and William Lesch, a marketing professor at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, are the study’s authors.
The survey defines genetic modification as adding genes to plants or animals to change the makeup of the original organism. It moves genetic material from one organism to another to produce plants or animals with desired characteristics faster than through traditional cross-breeding.
The study is based on a telephone survey of 407 adults who said they had done most of their household’s grocery shopping in the previous month. The survey was conducted between Nov. 20 and Dec. 8. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.
The North Dakota Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee commissioned the project.
The survey also found that:
Researchers say the survey results are consistent with national study findings, except that the North Dakota shoppers tended to be more accepting of genetically modified plants than other Americans.
For a copy of the study, contact Carol Jensen at the Department of Argibusiness and Applied Economics, North Dakota State University, PO Box 5636, Fargo, N.D. 58105- 5636, by phone (701) 231-7441, fax (701) 231-7400 or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). The study also is available online at http://agecon.lib.umn.edu.