Can science and geneticsliteracy affect student perception of genetically modified organisms?
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Observational studies have shown that educational attainment is related to heightened consumer perception of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically modified food (GMF). However, there is little information uncoupling the cognitive and social effects of educational attainment on the perception of GMOs and GMF. A survey experiment was designed to measure the effect of science and genetics literacy on consumer perception and acceptance of GMOs and GMF. A sample population of college students answered a questionnaire either before or after a 50-minute lecture about science and genetics concepts relevant to GMO development and cultivation. This lecture was assumed to increase science and genetics literacy in this population. Comparison of pre-lecture and post-lecture responses revealed that science and genetics literacy had—at least—a short-term effect on student perception of GMOs, which led to increased desirability of GMF, including food containing transgenic and first-generation GMOs.