What’s the most effective way to educate consumers about genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?

Educating consumers about genetically modified organisms (GMOs)


Many consumers have negative beliefs about GMOs and say they know “a lot about these products.” Research, however, suggests this “knowledge” is often inaccurate. Nevertheless, consumers are reluctant to accept new information about GMOs.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is interested in what materials and messages will most effectively educate consumers who are negatively disposed toward GMOs.


Westat brings our expertise in focus group moderating and qualitative analysis to this study. We are conducting 64 focus groups in 3 waves throughout the country with consumers who say they know at least “a little” about GMOs.

In the groups, we show participants draft materials and messages about GMOs to learn what information resonates, what sources are most credible, and why.


Study findings show that consumers have heard negative things about GMOs and are distrustful of them. However, when asked for specifics, consumers acknowledge they know very little about these products.

Focus group findings are contributing to an FDA-U.S. Department of Agriculture website aimed at giving consumers easy-to-understand historical and technical information about biotechnology.


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