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
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?
A great deal of influence986
A fair amount of influence303233
A little influence423540
None at all202521
A great deal of influence543
A fair amount of influence171717
A little influence414345
None at all373735
A great deal of influence484144
A fair amount of influence404343
A little influence101210
None at all243
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?
1 – Near complete agreement13611
5 – No agreement at all898
How well does group X know risk of GMO?
1 – Very well333434
5 – Not at all655
1 – Very well334
5 – Not at all352631
1 – Very well336
5 – Not at all302928