U.S. Adults with Agricultural Experience Report More Genetic Engineering Familiarity than Those Without


  • Kathryn A. Stofer University of Florida
  • Tracee M. Schiebel Florida Agriculture in the Classroom




genetic engineering, public understanding of science, agricultural experience, genetically modified organism, term familiarity


Researchers and pollsters still debate the acceptance of genetic engineering technology among U.S. adults, and continue to assess their knowledge as part of this research. While decision-making may not rely entirely on knowledge, querying opinions and perceptions relies on public understanding of genetic engineering terms. Experience with agriculture may increase familiarity with genetic engineering terms. We conducted a national survey of 429 United States adults through Qualtrics and found two-thirds lack any formal, nonformal, or informal agriculture experience. More than half of participants knew “a little” or less for 13 of the 17 terms presented, especially those directly related to genetic engineering or breeding technology for food, such as “genetically modified organism” and “crossbred organism.” Consumers with agricultural experience reported more term familiarity for genetics and genetic engineering than those without experience. More than half also felt they did not know the difference between traditional selective breeding, DNA-directed breeding, and genetic engineering, but they still felt both human health and environmental risks should be considered before creating new animal or plant varieties. We must consider the lack of familiarity of genetic related terms and experience in agriculture when researching or creating educational programming around genetic engineering for food.


Download data is not yet available.




How to Cite

Stofer, K. A., & Schiebel, T. M. (2017). U.S. Adults with Agricultural Experience Report More Genetic Engineering Familiarity than Those Without. Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(4), 160–174. https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2017.04160