The differences between GM policies in the US and Europe have several causes. GM technology holds a home court advantage in the US and European chemical companies did not support its introduction. The technology did not seem to provide benefits to consumers, and the crops it applied to were not so significant in Europe. The technology was introduced during a time when the political influence of green parties in Europe was especially significant, and European trust of government capacity to enter food security issues was at its lowest.
In this article, we review and assess existing surveys that attempt to gauge public opinion about GM crops. This review shows that consumer surveys can be something of a blunt instrument. Questionnaires, however well-constructed and professionally delivered, are answered in a vacuum of knowledge and elicit misleading responses. People recurrently admit they lack information on the technology behind GM food. It is a part of the general unfamiliarity with the food production process with which people show equal, if not greater, concern. Lacking control over a process involving such an emotive subject like food makes people uneasy and reluctant to accept “unknowns”. In addition, if people give answers to hypothetical questions, they do so as “cautious citizens” rather than consumers and this is not a good guide to actual behavior in real life. Qualitative studies using focus groups can be a much better guide to how people really feel about issues, but they also need expert facilitation and analysis to be of real value. An even better guide to acceptance and purchasing behavior (if that is the objective) is to put people in a situation where they are actually making a choice of whether or not to buy GM products.
Many studies have attempted to gauge consumers’ acceptance of genetically engineered or modified (GM) foods. Surveys, asking people about attitudes and intentions, are easy-to-collect proxies of consumer behavior. However, participants tend to respond as citizens of society, not discrete individuals, thereby inaccurately portraying their potential behavior. The Theory of Planned Behavior improved the accuracy of self-reported information, but its limited capacity to account for intention variance has been attributed to the hypothetical scenarios to which survey participants must respond. Valuation methods, asking how much consumers may be willing to pay or accept for GM foods, have revealed that consumers are usually willing to accept them at some price, or in some cases willing to pay a premium. Ultimately, it’s consumers’ actual—not intended—behavior that is of most interest to policy makers and business decision-makers. Real choice experiments offer the best avenue for revealing consumers’ food choices in normal life.
Glutathione peroxidases (GPXs) are major family of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging enzymes. Recently, database analysis of the Arabidopsis genome revealed a new open-reading frame, thus increasing the total number of AtGPX gene family to eight (AtGPX1–8). The effect of plant hormones like; i. e. salicylic acid (SA), jasmonic acid (JA), abscisic acid (ABA), indoleacetic acid (IAA), and mannitol on the expression of the genes confirm that the AtGPX genes family is regulated by multiple signaling pathways. The survival rate of AtGPX8 knockout plants (KO8) was significantly decreased under heat stress compared with the wild type. Moreover, the content of malondialdehyde (MDA) and protein oxidation was significantly increased in the KO8 plant cells under heat stress. Results indicating that the deficiency of AtGPX8 accelerates the progression of oxidative stress in KO8 plants. On the other hand, the overexpression of AtGPX8 in E. coli cells enhance the growth of the recombinant enzyme on media supplemented with 0.2 mM cumene hydroperoxide, 0.3 mM H2O2 or 600 mM NaCl.
Most regulatory authorities require that developers of genetically engineered insect-resistant (GEIR) crops evaluate the potential for these crops to have adverse impacts on valued non-target organisms (NTOs), i.e., organisms not intended to be controlled by the trait. In many cases, impacts to NTOs are assessed using surrogate species, and it is critical that the data derived from surrogates accurately predict any adverse impacts likely to be observed from the use of the crop in the agricultural context. The key is to select surrogate species that best represent the valued NTOs in the location where the crop is going to be introduced, but this selection process poses numerous challenges for the developers of GE crops who will perform the tests, as well as for the ecologists and regulators who will interpret the test results. These issues were the subject of a conference “Surrogate Species Selection for Assessing Potential Adverse Environmental Impacts of Genetically Engineered Plants on Non-Target Organisms” convened by the Center for Environmental Risk Assessment, ILSI Research Foundation. This report summarizes the proceedings of the conference, including the presentations, discussions and the points of consensus agreed to by the participants.