Americans are as divided about their food as they are about their pick for president.
The PEW Research Center on Thursday announced the results of a survey that looked at people assess the health effects of two kinds of food: organic and genetically modified (GM) foods.
The survey of 1,480 American adults finds that 55 percent of Americans believe organically-grown produce is healthier than conventionally-grown varieties, while 41 percent say there is no difference between organics and conventionally-grown produce. Four-in-ten Americans (40 percent) say that most (6 percent) or some (34 percent) of the food they eat is organic.
Meanwhile, 39 percent of Americans consider GM foods worse for a person's health than other foods. This compares with 48 percent who say GM foods are no different from non-GM foods, and 10 percent say GM foods are better for health.
"The data suggest that people's divisions are linked to their interest in food issues and how they think food consumption ties to their well-being," said lead author and associate director of research at Pew Research Center Cary Funk. "Their views are not driven by their political attitudes, their level of education, their household income, or where they live."
Regardless, Americans seem frustrated by the amount of conflicting news stories centered around what's good for them and what isn't. That said, most Americans understand the reason for all those conlifcting reports.
A 61 percent majority of respondents to the survey say it makes sense that findings conflict with prior studies because "new research is constantly improving our understanding" while 37 percent of Americans say "research about the health effects of what people eat and drink cannot really be trusted because so many studies conflict with each other."
On the issue of GMs, the survey found that Americans still don't trust the science, but part of that might have to do with their overall knowledge of science.
"This survey finds that Americans have limited trust in scientists connected with GM food," said Funk. "Just 19 percent of Americans say scientists understand the health effects of GM foods 'very well.' Some 44 percent of Americans say scientists understand this fairly well and 35 percent say scientists do not understand the health effects of GM at all or not too well."
Despite mixed assessments of scientists working on GM food issues, 60 percent say scientists should have a major role in policy issues related to GM foods and 28 percent say they should have a minor role. A smaller share of Americans says that food industry leaders (42 percent) or elected officials (24 percent) should have a major role in policy decisions about GM foods.
Full survey results and report can be found HERE.