Let’s get this out of the way: genetically modified foods are perfectly safe for human consumption. Study after study, and even a study of those aforementioned studies (how meta) have shown this to be true—the science is very clear on this.
But the modern environmental movement has successfully inflamed fears of unnatural “frankenfoods” in the minds of a wary public. 47 percent of adults aged 18-49 bought food labeled “GMO-free” in the past month, according to a recent Pew Research poll, and 41 percent of adults over the age of 50 followed suit. That’s a huge number of Americans that are being taken in by Luddite fear mongering, but as Pew Research reports, this attitude is especially common in young people:
Younger adults are also more likely to expect GM foods to lead to harm for the population as a whole. Those ages 18 to 29 are more inclined than those 65 and older to say it is very likely that GM foods will lead to health problems for the population (21% vs. 8%). Younger adults also are more likely than those 65 and older to say GM foods will create problems for the environment (25% vs. 9% of seniors).
For a generation that likes to think of itself as “woke,” that will justify the veracity of anthropogenic climate change with a simple “because science” explanation, this is a remarkable repudiation of expert opinion. This is a serious problem, because if we’re to have any hope of feeding the world’s teeming billions on a crowded and warmer planet, we are without doubt going to need genetically modified crops.
The fact that our youngest adults are also the most likely to reject GMOs also suggests that this problem is going to get worse before it gets better. That ought to send a shiver down the spine of anyone concerned about humanity’s future food security, but if there’s a silver lining, it’s this:
[A]dults younger than 30 also are more inclined than those 65 and older to expect positive effects from GM foods: 30% say such foods are very likely to help make food affordable, and the same share says GM foods are very likely to improve the global food supply.
Of course, it’d be easier to convince people of the importance—and the safety—of GMOs if there wasn’t a concerted effort already underway on the part of green groups to discredit them. Earlier this year, a group of 107 Nobel laureates penned a letter denouncing Greenpeace for its “dangerous…anti-science” scare tactics used to discredit GMOs. “How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a “crime against humanity”?,” they ended the letter by asking. We’re going to need these crops in the coming decades, but we’re also going to need to do a better job informing people of their merits—and a better job combatting the misinformation being spread about their perceived dangers.