I decided despite my undergraduate degree in molecular biology and genetics to stop writing about genetically engineered foods 12 years ago.
I still do now and then, but the public discussion doesn’t go anywhere; it’s not a food safety issue and I don’t have much to add.
So while N.Y. Times columnists and other foodies get all expansive about GE food, like the story about how Cheerios is going GE free (I’d prefer GE Cheerios for my kids, if that’s what they were going to eat while daddy was asleep) or how some lawmaker in Hawaii discovered there’s not much to this GE story, I focus on people who barf and sometimes die.
That’s microbial food safety.
But, just when I thought I was out, they suck me back in.
Powell, D.A. 2014. Surveys suck: Consumer preferences when purchasing genetically engineered foods. GM Crops and Food 4 (3): 195-201
Many studies have attempted to gauge consumers’ acceptance of genetically engineered or modified (GM) foods. Surveys, asking people about attitudes and intentions, are easy-to-collect proxies of consumer behavior. However, participants tend to respond as citizens of society, not discrete individuals, thereby inaccurately portraying their potential behavior. The Theory of Planned Behavior improved the accuracy of self-reported information, but its limited capacity to account for intention variance has been attributed to the hypothetical scenarios to which survey participants must respond. Valuation methods, asking how much consumers may be willing to pay or accept for GM foods, have revealed that consumers are usually willing to accept them at some price, or in some cases willing to pay a premium. Ultimately, it’s consumers’ actual—not intended—behavior that is of most interest to policy makers and business decision-makers. Real choice experiments offer the best avenue for revealing consumers’ food choices in normal life.