prof. dr. Gheysen Godelieve
Secondary students lack knowledge about GMO products
Secondary school pupils don't know enough about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and are easily influenced by media reports about them.
4,000 pupils in all secondary education grades in Belgium were interviewed on genetics and GMOs. The study shows that students know only a little about GMOs, and their knowledge has only improved moderately over the years, mainly concerning theoretic aspects of genetics. The students didn't know much about the commercial status of GMOs and how they are labelled. Only one out of 14 knew that GMOs are not indicated via E-numbers, the codes for substances used as food additives. While the majority of the students sometimes buy products from the Alpro Soya brand, for example, only one in 33 knows they are GMO-free. The researchers also examined how final-year students deal with new information on GMOs. If they were confronted with reports both against and in favour of GMOs, they became less positive about the process. Hearing about possible risks had a larger effect than finding out about possible advantages. The researchers advise teachers to analyse controversial GMO news in the media with students.