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PLoS One. 2016 Nov 9;11(11):e0166140. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0166140. eCollection 2016.

Examining the Gap between Science and Public Opinion about Genetically Modified Food and Global Warming.

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Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, United States of America.


There is great uncertainty due to challenges of escalating population growth and climate change. Public perception that diverges from the scientific community may decrease the effectiveness of scientific inquiry and innovation as tools to solve these challenges. The objective of this study was to identify the factors associated with the divergence of public opinion from scientific consensus regarding the safety of genetically modified (GM) foods and human involvement in global warming (GW). Results indicate that the effects of knowledge on public opinion are complex and non-uniform across types of knowledge (i.e., perceived and actual) or issues. Political affiliation affects agreement with science; Democrats were more likely to agree that GM food is safe and human actions cause GW. Respondents who had relatively higher cognitive function or held illusionary correlations about GM food or GW were more likely to have an opinion that differed from the scientific community.

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