Climate change, genetically modified organisms, animal research and pesticides have long proven to be the center of much debate amongst the common public.
Is it real? Are they safe? Is it moral? In a recent poll by Pew Research Center, distinct disconnect between public and scientists’ views on science and society came to the surface with those topics.
“Scientific innovations are deeply embedded in national life — in the economy, in core policy choices about how people care for themselves and use the resources around them, and in the topmost reaches of Americans’ imaginations,” states the report. “New Pew Research Center surveys of citizens and a representative sample of scientists connected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) show powerful crosscurrents that both recognize the achievements of scientists and expose stark fissures between scientists and citizens on a range of science, engineering and technology issues.”
Here’s what the poll found:
- Only 37 percent of the general public feel it’s safe to eat genetically modified foods, compared to 88 percent of scientists. This was the largest gap of the poll with a 51 point gap.
- 47 percent of the public are in favor of using animals for scientific research, compared to 89 percent of scientists, making a 42 point gap.
- When it comes to deciding whether it’s safe or not to eat food grown with pesticides, 28 percent of the public felt it acceptable, compared to 68 percent of scientists, witch a 40 point gap.
- The hot topic of climate change was viewed mostly due to human activity by 50 percent of the public, compared to 87 scientists, for a 37 point gap.
- Only 59 percent of the public population believe the growing world population will be a major problem, in a 23 point difference with 87 percent of scientists agreeing.
Other topics include evolution, necessity of children being vaccinated (68 percent of the public say yes and 86 percent of the scientist agree), space station investments, increased use of bioengineered fuel and offshore drilling.
“The largest differences between the public and the AAAS scientists are found in beliefs about the safety of eating genetically modified (GM) foods,” says the report. “Nearly nine-in-ten (88 percent) scientists say it is generally safe to eat GM foods compared with 37 percent of the general public, a difference of 51 percentage points. One possible reason for the gap: when it comes to GM crops, two-thirds of the public (67 percent) say scientists do not have a clear understanding about the health effects.”