The Sources of Public Mistrust

In Walter Brown's recent essay on reasons people fear genetically modified (GM) food,1 he attributed that fear to some type of "reverence for nature and natural order." Dr. Brown missed the three major players contributing to public mistrust of GM food: economics, politics, and advertisement. Much of the Europeans' fear of GM food stems from the fact that they are being told by the public media that the foods may not be safe. Reports on the potential banes greatly outnumber the reports on the be

Barry Hicks
May 28, 2000

In Walter Brown's recent essay on reasons people fear genetically modified (GM) food,1 he attributed that fear to some type of "reverence for nature and natural order." Dr. Brown missed the three major players contributing to public mistrust of GM food: economics, politics, and advertisement. Much of the Europeans' fear of GM food stems from the fact that they are being told by the public media that the foods may not be safe. Reports on the potential banes greatly outnumber the reports on the benefits. The public at large is not capable of interpreting the complex scientific issues involved in GM crops, so they believe what they hear.

European farmers whose subsidies often don't cover the higher cost of GM seed or herbicides have been at the forefront of protests to anyone who will listen, especially their politicians. Since they cannot compete with subsidized American farmers producing larger and...

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