The Sciences

Do liberals oppose genetically modified organisms more than conservatives?

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanJun 11, 2013 4:03 AM

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Credit: PumaThere has been recent talk about GMOs and political orientation recently. Keith Kloor has pointers to the appropriate places. The general impression on all sides seems to be that elite voices against genetically modified organisms are on the Left. To my knowledge this is correct, especially in the United States. But is this true more broadly? We can use the General Social Survey to explore this further. It has a series of questions relating to genetically modified organisms. All except one were asked in 2006 (the exception was 2010). For replication here are the variables: Row: EATGM POLINFGM BIZINFGM MEDAGRGM MEDINFGM GMMED GMPOL GMBIZ POLINFNK Column: POLVIEWS(r:1-3"Liberal";4"Moderate";5-7"Conservative") There results are presented below (rows add up to 100% for each question).

What this tells us is that elite opinions matter a lot in public discourse. The gap between liberals and non-liberals is not really there on this issue at the grassroots. That could change, as people of various ideologies tend to follow elite cues. This is why the strong counter-attack from within the Left elite is probably going to be effective, as it signals that being against GMO is not the "liberal position." Addendum: Just so people who haven't been reading me know, political moderates tend not to be very intelligent.

Attitudes toward genetically modified foods by ideology in the general social survey

LibModConserv

Don't care whether or not food GMO151617

Willing to eat but would prefer non-GMO555352

Will not eat genetically modified food303031

How much influence should group X have?

Politicians

A great deal of influence986

A fair amount of influence303233

A little influence423540

None at all202521

Business leaders

A great deal of influence543

A fair amount of influence171717

A little influence414345

None at all373735

Medical researchers

A great deal of influence484144

A fair amount of influence404343

A little influence101210

None at all243

Elected officials

A great deal of influence8129

A fair amount of influence444436

A little influence383441

None at all111114

Do group X agree on the risks of GMO?

Medical researchers

1 – Near complete agreement13611

2261922

3405545

4131114

5 – No agreement at all898

How well does group X know risk of GMO?

Medical researchers

1 – Very well333434

2362838

3162217

48106

5 – Not at all655

Elected officials

1 – Very well334

2776

3232824

4333735

5 – Not at all352631

Business leaders

1 – Very well336

21357

3272724

4273735

5 – Not at all302928

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