GMO Food

80 Percent of Americans Want to Label Food That Contains DNA

Sigh.

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You might have heard that Americans overwhelmingly favor mandatory labeling for foods containing genetically modified ingredients. That's true, according to a new study: 84 percent of respondents said they support the labels.

GMO
Brandon McFadden and Jayson Lusk

But a nearly identical percentage—80 percent—in the same survey said they'd also like to see labels on food containing DNA.

DNA
Brandon McFadden and Jayson Lusk

DNA.

The study, published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal last week, also found that 33 percent of respondents thought that non-GM tomatoes "did not contain genes" and 32 percent thought that "vegetables did not have DNA." So there's that.

University of Florida food economist Brandon R. McFadden and his co-author Jayson L. Lusk surveyed 1,000 American consumers and discovered that "consumers think they know more than they actually do about GM food." In fact, the authors say, "the findings question the usefulness of results from opinion polls as motivation for public policy surrounding GM food."

My summary for laymen: When it comes to genetically modified food, people don't know much, they don't know what they don't know, and they sure as heck aren't letting that stop them from having strong opinions.

However, the authors do offer another, more charitable way to read their findings, suggesting that rather than simply throw up our hands and say that Americans are the Jon Snows of GM food, we should consider the possibility that the results "indicate how consumers psychological[ly] handle difficult questions."

Perhaps "individuals attempt to economize on scarce cognitive resources by unconsciously substituting an easier question for a hard one. Rather than seriously weighing the pros and cons of a mandatory labeling, the similarity in responses to the DNA labeling question suggests people may instead be substituting these questions with a simper question like, 'do you want free information about a topic for which you know very little?' This psychological process would lead to similar levels of support to two very different policy questions." Leaving aside the sick burn implied by the phrase "scarce cognitive resources" for a minute, this is a good point.

What's more, the researcher found that even posing basic questions about GM food caused people to re-evaluate how much they knew, downgrading their own perceptions of their knowledge levels, while simultaneously becoming more confident about the safety of GM foods.

UPDATE with fun fact: High fructose corn syrup and other highly refined foods made with GM crops actually don't contain DNA, apparently.

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  1. I’m confused. Maybe if you used a Venn diagram, we could get something done.

    1. Yeah Man, Amen, I wunt mah LABELS!!!

      Ah unnerstanz that sum of the time, tomfoolery ends up puttin’ sum o’ that them thar newfangled so-called “molecules” in mah foodicles, an’ THEY’S NUT EVEN TELLIN’ ME ABOUT IT!!!

      This that them thar shit’s gotta be STOPPED!!! There oughta be a LAW agin that un-labelled “molecules”!!!

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      3. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out.

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      5. Damn ut Otis uts spelt mollykulez.

  2. Obligatory Soylent Green Joke

  3. *My* summary: When it comes to genetically modified food practically anything, people don’t know much, they don’t know what they don’t know, and they sure as heck aren’t letting that stop them from having strong opinions.

    1. *Especially* when it comes to telling other people how to live.

      1. +1 libertarian moment.

    2. +1

      This, I think, is due to the perception that because someone says it on social media it is:

      1). Widely believed
      2). Correct

      My theory is based solely off the fact that Alex Jones has a following.

    3. It was a loaded survey. All 3 possible answers (yes, no, I don’t know) make you look stupid.

      1. Mr. Pondini, have you stopped beating your wife yet?

  4. I say we give ’em what they want. Big old stickers on nearly everything

    WARNING: Contains DNA. Which is not harmful to your health in any way.

    1. WARNING: Contains DNA. Which is not harmful to your health in any way.

      Just like Winston’s mom.

      1. In her case, it would have to say: WARNING: Contains haploid DNA.

      2. NOTHING beats Winston’s mom when it comes to containing DNA. She is, however, harmful to your health.

        1. She’s a DNA hoarder, really.

      3. I deposited some DNA in her mouth just last night. Only cost me $1.50.

        1. You overpaid, AND you’re gonna have to shell out for antibiotics now.

          1. True, that price is gonna go way up once you account for that. Doesn’t seem like much of a bargain now.

        2. Happy hour, I suppose?

        3. Did she take her teeth out?

  5. Well, to be fair, most of the foods in the American diet do not contain any DNA: sugar, white flour, and white rice. Also, I am pretty sure cooking destroys DNA, so cooked food does not have any. DNA is only found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and raw meat. How often do Americans eat those?

    1. Also, I am pretty sure cooking destroys DNA

      Depends on what you mean by destroyed. Cooking dentures the DNA, IOW breaks apart the bonds between the proteins.

      1. dentures the DNA

        These euphemisms…

        1. That was supposed to be “denatures.” I blame autocorrect.

          1. Ah, the old “blame atuocroretc” excseu.

      2. Eh….

        DNA is wrapped around histones (protein complexes), but it does not have bonds between proteins in and of itself.

        Denatured DNA means that it is unfolded and separated. Denatured DNA would be unzipped one strand from the other and a tangled mess. Denatured proteins would be unfolded from their active conformations and would not function.

        Bonds between proteins wouldn’t really be what we are talking about with denaturing, but you might break down sulfur bonds during the process.

      3. “Dentures the DNA” is my new favorite phrase.

        1. So Winstons mom did NOT take her teeth out. That was worrying me.

    2. Why would white flour and white rice have no DNA? Are you saying the DNA is only in the discarded bits?

      1. DNA is (mostly) in the germ. However, there will still be DNA remaining in the mitochondria.

        1. Somebody hasn’t been reading the FDA regs regarding allowable ppms of insect fragments and rodent feces if you don’t think there’s DNA in highly processed food.

          /+1 rat’s ass

    3. My diet consists almost entirely of those things. I also eat honey when I can get it. This usually involves using my long claws and strong fore limbs to shimmy up a tree. Then, I either lick the honeycomb with my long, rough tongue or break it open with my powerful jaws. Then I climb down and sleep all winter.

    4. I’m pretty sure most genetically modified organisms aren’t intact organisms by the time people eat them, so I don’t think “it doesn’t have intact DNA anymore” would fly.

  6. GMOs are a gluten, calories are a gluten, fat, that’s a gluten. They’re bad for you, so label them!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3397IrAdAc

    1. You R Idiot, nuff said

  7. I wonder if we could get the same 80% to sign a petition calling for a ban on dihydrogen monoxide.

    1. i think some of those people who do intentionally crazy surveys tested this…. the answer is yes…. quite a few of them.

    2. ITS IN THE DRINKING WATER!!!!

    3. Don’t laugh? I read about 10 years ago about a high school science student doing a “science experiment” whereby he told people being surveyed about the various dangers of “dihydrous monoxide”, and asked if it should be banned. 85% or so said yes, a few wanted to know, first, if it maybe had some very good benefits to it, before it is banned, and a VERY few said, “No, silly, we can NOT outlaw water!” ? Now all these years later I can find so PRO people who say it should be legal, see ? http://www.armory.com/~crisper/DHMO/ ? And some ANTI people, see http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html Me, I just dunno any moar? Y’all study up and see what YOU think? Maybe we need more SURVEYS to study this!

      1. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D…..oxide_hoax ?
        ? and brought to widespread public attention in 1997 when Nathan Zohner, a 14-year-old student, gathered petitions to ban “DHMO” as the basis of his science project, titled “How Gullible Are We?”.

  8. There already are laws mandating labels on food containing DNA aren’t there? Besides being the law, it just makes sense that you’d want to know what’s in that can you’re opening before you open it. You ever had a toddler get into the pantry and peel the labels off a dozen or so cans? It’s no big deal when you’re hoping for a can of corn and you get a can of green beans instead but a can of spinach and a can of peaches are not interchangeable. (Spinach cobbler is just nasty.)

    1. It’s called spanikopita, and you’re doing it wrong.

      1. These euphemisms get worse every day…

  9. Personally, I’d like to see labels on any foods that were at one time alive. And maybe labels on foods which contain any chemicals or calories.

    1. A lack of proper labeling is why I only drink rainwater and eat sand.

      1. Ear-Bending Cellmate: …and when there was no meat, we ate fowl and when there was no fowl, we ate crawdad and when there was no crawdad to be found, we ate sand.

        H.I.: You ate what?

        Ear-Bending Cellmate: We ate sand.

        H.I.: You ate SAND?

        Ear-Bending Cellmate: That’s right!

    2. I think this sort of “Qualifying Data”-thing needs to happen far more often.

      People do these binary polls where they ask people “are you Pro/Con X?”

      what is needed is a second question, clarifying, “on a scale of 1-10 how much do you know about X” and a third, asking, “how much do you actually care about X”?

      You rarely see this, mainly because ‘researchers’ purposely avoid asking. Because their goal isn’t to actually learn about the general public’s attitudes as much as it is to generate headline claims for PR purposes.

      Every now and then you get some added data which clarifies that what is being described as the “consensus view” is paper-thin and meaningless. Its handy for shutting down people who use so much of the bullshit-headline-data as the meat for their arguments.

      1. But then it wouldn’t be as useful for agitating for nanny state policies.

    3. Personally, I’d like to see labels on any foods that were at one time alive.

      The devil is in the details. Is an unfertilized chicken egg “alive?”

  10. What’s more, the researcher found that even posing basic questions about GM food caused people to re-evaluate how much they knew, downgrading their own perceptions of their knowledge levels, while simultaneously becoming more confident about the safety of GM foods

    *sigh*

    Another libertarian-stooge writing about a study funded by Monsanto. GMO’s are killers. The evidence is out there. My body is a temple, which is why I never ingest anything modified or created by science.

    1. What kind of temple? Are we talking boring modern Christian temples? ’cause “incense”, offerings/sacrifices, and temple prostitutes are all things for different kinds of temples.

    2. So cum guzzling isn’t out of the question?

    3. The Aztecs genetically modified food centuries ago. That’s why corn is edible.

  11. And here I thought the Oberlin story was sure to be the dumbest thing I’d read today. Should’ve known better.

  12. Eat my DNA, bitch.

  13. I recently learned an interesting tidbit. Americans will generally revert to about a fourth-grade educational level on things they are not actively engaged in studying (and by studying I mean really studying, not this crap they do at places like Oberlin). I have no idea if it’s true or not.

    I think it’s being a bit generous, frankly.

    1. A corollary is that most Americans aren’t actively engaged in studying anything.

      1. Indeed. I’m not studying the educational levels of Americans, so I have no idea. Fourth grade it is!

    2. I’d say fourth grade is being extremely generous.

    3. Americans? That’s probably true of humans generally, and it shows how rapidly we learn. Almost all the important things we learn in the 1st few yrs. of life. The rest is mostly specializ’n.

    4. There is a reason there was (is) a game show called “Are You Smarter Than 5th Grader”, most Americans aren’t. So it’s not really a large step down to “revert to about a fourth-grade educational level on things they are not actively engaged in studying”.

  14. ::Grabs bridge of nose between thumb and forefinger. Closes eyes. Sighs audibly. Stops internetting for the day.::

  15. WE MUST DO SOMETHING! Only government can help!

    1. That’s something. So let’s do it.

      1. Think of the childrunz!1!!1!!!!

  16. Hmmmm…. vegetables have no DNA. Wow, I’m going to have a hard time developing a new tomato in that case.

    I wonder what the overlap is between the “veggies have no DNA” crowd, and the “Jesus rode a dinosaur” bunch?

    These are the same people who would require everyone to vote.

    1. YOU TRY WATCHING VEGGIETALES AND TELL ME THERE’S NO DNA IN THERE.

    2. I wonder what the overlap is between the “veggies have no DNA” crowd, and the “Jesus rode a dinosaur” bunch?

      I wonder what the overlap is between the “veggies have no DNA” crowd, and the “vaccines cause autism” crowd?

      I wonder what the overlap is between the “veggies have no DNA” crowd, and the “everyone has to get vaccinated for everything because polio” crowd?

      I wonder what the overlap is between the “veggies have no DNA” crowd, and the “vaping could kill you” crowd?

      I wonder what the overlap is between the “veggies have no DNA” crowd, and the “I passed the bar!” crowd?

      Are you seriously trying to chalk this up to some sort of fundamentalist Christian anti-science movement?

      1. Point taken, clumsy writing on my part. I like your examples better for overlap.

        OTOH, it would be interesting to see what portion of the population are either the no-DNA crowd or the Christian anti-science crowd. Between the two, I fear that 80 % of the population might become close to 99 %.

  17. This is right up there with when I pointed out to my MIL that unless you’re shopping for groceries in the hardware aisle, all food is organic.

    1. How about some nice organic butane?

      1. fallacy of composition much?

        1. Nope, butane is an organic compound. The actual definition of organic is, it includes a carbon atom.

          1. I see where this has gone…That definition is pretty shaky. Limestone contains carbon… asbestos contains carbon… It’s all a mess.

      2. All natural, gluten free, no calorie arsenic!

    2. all food is organic
      [pedant]
      Two natural exceptions being salt and water.
      [/pedant]

      1. [extra pedant] Salt and water aren’t foods.
        [/extra pedant]

    3. Try telling her there is no such thing as organic sea salt but the plastic jar it comes in IS oganic.

  18. Yes, half of people are below average intelligence and apparently 80% of people are just stupid when it comes to science that doesn’t involve cool pictures of outer space.

    Unfortunately, telling people they’re stupid and then providing proof has a less than stellar track record of getting people to change their minds.

    1. I know…but we’ve tried calmly and nicely explaining why they’re wrong too, and that didn’t work either.

  19. My own study talking to people about food and science?

    Capiscono cazzo di niente.

    Thank you.

    1. Literally “They know fuck about nothing”
      English: “They don’t know shit about anything”

      Che cazzo fai, Rufo? 😉

  20. I don’t want food with DNA in it.

    It makes me go to the bathroom.

  21. “32 percent thought that “vegetables did not have DNA.” ”

    HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A VEGETABLE CONVICTED THROUGH DNA EVIDENCE? WELL HAVE YOU?? SEE….?

    1. Actually, there have been cases where plant DNA has been used to tie batches of drugs together or put a suspect at a very specific location. Google “forensics plant DNA” for some links.

  22. Does evolution count as genetic modification?

  23. Depends on what you mean by labels. If the label says something like PEANUT BUTTER that would be helpful. I want to make sure my peanut butter isn’t whipped poop.

    1. Whipped poop is GOOD fer ya!

      Next time you visit the “Peking Moon” or any other Chinese Rest-a-daunt, PLEASE do yerself a flavor, and try the “Moo Goo Gai Pan, in a Poo Poo Pie Pan”… It is to DIE for!!!!

      1. The pu pu platter is also good.

  24. What I always like to ask anti-GMO pro-labelling dumbasses is, why not also have labels for all foods made by people named Steve? Isn’t it my right to know how many Steves touched my food? Besides, if theres no danger to food handled by Steves, what do we have to worry about by labeling them?

    1. I worry a LOT more, about mah food being LOOKED AT by people named “Kongming”. It’s MY right!

      1. If only you knew how much DNA I put into your sandwich at lunch too. Then you’d be REALLY mad!

        1. There’s some sort of law about that on the books… ISN’T THERE!?!?!

          If you REALLY piss off your server, and he spits on your sammich, he’s got to TELL ya about it, RIGHT?

          If not, there’s yet another law we need… Since we will only catch one in 12 billion offenders, we’ll have to make a REAL “example” out of them… Nuke their entire city or state, or some such….

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              1. I…have never had anyone respond to that clip by actually sending me their newsletter. Bravo, good sir, bravo!

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                1. Thanks Kind Sir or Sir-ess, but… My favorite charity is the Institutes for Justice… They are way-cool… Send your excess money their way…

                  Thanks for your kind words!!!

    2. What do you have to lose by labeling Steve-made food? Seriously, how much does it cost?

  25. I want labels on my food stating its age and sex. Meat should also include a name and picture.

    1. And that meat’s favorite color. It’s my right to know!

    2. First rule of ranching: “Never name your food.”

      1. …our cattle were registered, so they were all named. It didn’t bother me a bit at dinnertime either.

        (seriously, our cattle were sold as bloodstock, so they usually weren’t food, they were mommies and daddies of food, but they did really have names).

        1. they were mommies and daddies of food

          So nobody thought of the(ir) children.

  26. … the results “indicate how consumers psychological handle difficult questions.”

    Katherine, are you sure that’s the phrasing you intended?

  27. Count your presumptive LP nominee, Gary Johnson, among those who support mandatory labeling.

  28. “People may instead be substituting these questions with a simper question.” Well, I saw this all the time grading student essays. For years I gave the most unpopular essay assignment on campus: Why were certain technologies like suspension bridges widely considered beautiful, while others, like neon signs, were widely considered ugly? And all the time, I’d get essays where utility, an easy thing to discuss, was substituted for beauty, a hard one.

    Let me suggest a very harsh alternative. If you don’t have enough information to answer a question, you admit it and shut up. To do otherwise marks you as a liar and unworthy of respect.

    1. Why were certain technologies like suspension bridges widely considered beautiful, while others, like neon signs, were widely considered ugly?

      I question the assumption.

      1. Me too, but there’s even more when it comes to the details. They used to routinely brick up the towers of suspension bridges, like the B’klyn, until people saw how pretty the Geo. Wash. was when partly complete, so they left it unbricked, & the fashion has stayed that way.

        See here how they landmarked that Pepsi sign?

        1. Actually, the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge were built of stone. The is no underlyinf structural steel framework being hidden by a stone veneer; the masonry supports the entire load.

          John Roebling did build some bridges which used steel for the towers, and no effort was made to try to hide it.

  29. RE: “80 Percent of Americans Want to Label Food That Contains DNA” Almost all food contains DNA. All meat and all vegetables contain DNA. Bread and pasta do too. And yogurt.

  30. Everyone but me is an idiot!

  31. What’s the problem here? It’s stupid to ask such questions. Ask, “Should your food be labeled as to…?” Don’t even finish the question, the answer is yes, YES, YES! Why would anyone answer “no”? It doesn’t matter what it is; since foods have labels anyway, the add’l cost of adding practically anything to it is near 0, & there’s always the possibility it would be useful to the buyer.

    1. The question is “should men with guns force people to add banal declarations to food labels?” This all started out as a truth in advertising law enforceable in 1907. Now look at it!

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  33. It was a loaded survey. All 3 possible answers (yes, no, I don’t know) make you look stupid.

  34. Hell yes I’d like my food labels to contain TNA!

  35. it’s very danger and their must be caution of such kind of food!

  36. I make it a point to never impute cleverness to the American voter.

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  38. Ironically, we should have problems with food that DOESN’T contain DNA.

  39. How many falsely claim to pro-choice?

  40. So, what this article is saying is that 80% of Americans are complete idiots?
    I would have thought it would be higher than that.

  41. So, what this article is saying is that 80% of Americans are complete idiots?
    I would have thought it would be higher than that.

  42. So, what this article is saying is that 80% of Americans are complete idiots?
    I would have thought it would be higher than that.

  43. I’m all for it! Stupid people then will either starve or have to face up to ingesting DNA.

  44. So where’s the chart asking about Dihydrogen Monoxide?

    1. That’s vaping. DNA, LSD, DMT… it’s all dope, and sure to turn kids into avatars of Satan. It said so on teevee…

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  46. When I saw Bailey’s headline, I thought it was clever turn of words about maybe a deeper insight in some poll.

    Nevermind.

  47. Why don’t the GMO food producers just put “non-GMO” on their packaging? It seems like most of them do that already, so what’s the problem?

    Or how about this: we put “contains GMOs” on GMO food, and we put labels on “regular” food that says, “contains ingredients produced through random mutations”! That way, everyone has some scaremongering label on their packaging.

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  49. When can we get mandatory labeling of Pie charts that look like Pac-Man?

  50. They should do a survey asking if food that contains chemicals should be labeled.

  51. And these poll respondents are the government school graduates that press guns into the hands of the politicians who make the laws that are lethally binding on everyone. Happy now?

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  56. That’s because those respondents watch so many cop and courtroom dramas that they think DNA is only found in sperm and blood. And maybe hair. Since vegetables don’t have those things, voila…no DNA!

  57. Basically it seems that the majority of people surveyed are completely ignorant regarding basic biology.

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  59. Yes, I too think that the people in the survey were basically ignorant of biology.

  60. Basically it seems that the majority of people surveyed are completely ignorant regarding basic biology.

    misr news
    almasdar

  61. Let’s see now … Food without DNA … What does that leave us to eat? Salt? Water?

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