Isn’t it annoying how produce from the grocery store seems to go bad quickly? If you are you are in luck because that’s a problem scientists are trying to edit out of our food—and yes you read that correctly, I did mean edit.

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Gene-editing is one of the methods scientists are using to help solve the food security problem as our population grows. While it can help bring food yields up for the farmer, it also can benefit the consumers by removing allergens, reducing saturated and trans fats, and enriching nutrients.

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash
Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

Now all of this sounds good on paper, but how well will this be executed. That comes down to public acceptance.

Iowa State University did a study that gauges public acceptance of gene-edited foods. They used a nationally representative sample of 2,000 US residents. Participants were sent a survey to help understand whether or not they would eat or actively avoid gene-edited foods, and understand what impacted their decision.

ISU researchers say they are planning to repeat this survey every two years for the next decade to track the shift in public attitudes towards gene-edited foods.

So far- people don’t seem to lean much in any direction, explains Senior Research Fellow Christopher Cummings.

“Right now, there are a lot of people in the middle. They have not fully made up their mind about gene-edited foods, but as they learn more about the technologies and products, they will likely move to one side of the issue. I think it will depend on their consumer experience — what kind of messaging they trust and who sends it, as well as what products they encounter.”

So far, the study showed that a person’s likelihood to eat or avoid gene-edited foods is driven by social values and how much they trust government, industry, and environmental groups- which goes against the mindset of the food industry that people make decisions based off cost, appearance, taste, and nutritional content.

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