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Which type of consumer feels they know the most about genetically modified organisms (GMOs)? The answer may surprise you.

At Charleston/Orwig's recent Thought Leadership event, Mauve Webster from Datassential shared some new research collected on consumer perceptions of GMOs.

Study participants were asked how well they understood genetically modified seeds, plants, animals and other food products, and their impact on consumers. Over half felt they had a fair understanding (33 percent) or at least awareness (18 percent) on the topic. Just 5 percent said they had never heard the term before. A strong 44 percent of the 1,000-plus respondents reported to have a good or very in-depth understanding of GMOs.

While one might think soccer moms are the most up to date on food topics, of the 13 percent who claimed to have an in-depth understanding, 65 percent were actually males. Parents of children under the age of 6 did make up 55 percent of the in-depth understanding group, and adult Millennials 25 to 34 years old were the age bracket who reported the most in-depth understanding, coming in at 41 percent.

Not as surprising, rising income levels also appeared to elevate understanding. Fifty-five percent of respondents with a household income of $75,000 to $99,000 claimed to have a good or very in-depth understanding of GMOs.

Despite some of the confusion and bad press surrounding GMOs, only a third of respondents were interested in a full ban of the science. Consumers indicating they have in-depth knowledge about GMOs were more likely to support regulation against this technology.

People acknowledged an interest to learn more on the topic. Sixty percent wanted to know how GMOs impact their own and their family's health, and 49 percent were interested in research on the safety of GMOs and wanted to know which foods are most likely to contain GMOs.

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