Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are one of the most tested, vetted technologies on the planet. But first impressions are important – so chances are, if you don’t think they’re safe, new information to the contrary won’t change your mind, according to a new University of Florida study.
Brandon McFadden, an assistant professor in food and resource economics in the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, says some people even grow more stubborn in their beliefs that GMS are unsafe. The UF study showed 12% of participants said they felt such foods were less safe after reading scientific information about them.
“This is critical and hopefully demonstrates that as a society, we should be more flexible in our beliefs before collecting information from multiple sources,” McFadden says. “Also, this indicates that scientific findings about a societal risk likely have diminishing value over time.”
The survey collected responses from 961 people across the U.S. about GMOs and global warming, two controversial science topics the public does not agree upon. Respondents were given scientific information about the two topics. After reading statements from scientific groups, they were asked about their beliefs on GMOs and global warming.
After receiving additional information, 43% were not swayed in their opinions on GMOs, and 44% were not swayed in their opinions on global warming. The study suggests that first impressions are highly significant to forming opinions – and sticking with them.
“Possibly, the best indicator for whether a persona will adopt scientific information is simply what a person believes before receiving the information,” he says.