We’re all going to die!

Thank God we don’t actually leave policy at all related to science up to ordinary Americans.  A recent Pew study found that a substantial majority of Americans believe that foods grown with pesticides are “unsafe to eat.”  Really?  In that case the average American should probably go ahead and throw out most of their food.  (Not to mention, of course, the non-scientific beliefs about GMO food also in this report, but I’ve covered that plenty).  For some reason, the Pew report was interested in this in a religious context, so the chart is broken down that way:

More Black Protestants, Hispanic Catholics Say Foods Grown With Pesticides Are Unsafe

There’s lots more science policy-related questions (GMO, vaccinations, animal research, etc.) in there worth taking a look at, but I was most struck by the idea that Americans believe that foods they eat every single day are actually unsafe.  Now, of course, there’s actually plenty to be concerned about with pesticides and we should take these risks seriously, but if this is true (another reason to not quite trust public opinion) most Americans are either 1) comfortable eating food every day that they actually consider unsafe, or 2) think pesticides are unsafe,  but don’t actually care enough to be aware that much of the food they eat is grown with pesticides.  There are those, of course, who are rigorously organic, but that is obviously a very small portion of the population.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

2 Responses to We’re all going to die!

  1. ohwilleke says:

    Most people don’t know that pesticides are used on their food, and ore generally have only the dimmest of ideas about where their food comes from (and that applies to pretty much all urban people in the developed world).

    For example, I just watch a Japanese anime episode about a boy from the city going to an vocational agriculture high school world who was horrified to learn that chicken’s eggs come out of the anus of a hen because a chickens don’t have a separate vagina and anus. (This isn’t really a big deal because eggs are washed before they go to market and because chicken eggs have shells that you don’t eat.) I would be surprised if even 5% of urban egg eaters are aware of that fact.

    Similarly, I would be surprised if even half of people who buy organic food realize that the absence of artificial fertilizers means that organic food is mostly fertilized with raw manure, which would gross out most purity oriented organic food eaters.

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