What’s your food literacy? – Chicago Tribune

More than one-third of Americans do not know that foods with no genetically modified ingredients contain genes, according to the new nationally representative Food Literacy and Engagement Poll we recently conducted at Michigan State University. For the record, all foods contain genes, and so do all people.

The majority of respondents who answered this question incorrectly were young and affluent, and also more likely than their peers to describe themselves as having a higher-than-average understanding of the global food system. The full survey revealed that much of the U.S. public remains disengaged or misinformed about food. These findings are problematic because food shapes our lives on a personal level, while consumer choices and agricultural practices set the course for our collective future in a number of ways, from food production impacts to public health.

Informing food discussions

The Food Literacy and Engagement Poll, which we plan to conduct annually, is part of Food@MSU, a new initiative based in Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Food@MSU’s mission is to listen to consumers, promote dialogue and help the public make more informed choices about food.

Many factors make those decisions challenging for today’s consumers. Rapid scientific innovation has made it possible to engineer crops that can grow without fertilizer, survive flooding and supply vital nutrients to communities in the developing world. But further progress may be limited without public awareness and support for research on urgent food and agriculture challenges.

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