The Psychology of Distrusting G.M.O.s | The New Yorker

Below is the beginning from an article from The New Yorker, it provides a very interesting view of the psychology behind the anti-gm movement. I encourage you to read the full article, linked at the bottom of this post. 

Last week, the author Michael Pollan expressed his concern over a piece in the New YorkTimes, “A Race to Save the Orange by Altering Its DNA,” by Amy Harmon, about the potential use of genetic engineering to save oranges from certain disease-causing bacteria. “2 many industry talking pts,” he tweeted. His outburst was symptomatic of a wider suspicion of introducing genetically modified organisms into the food supply: Europeans refer to G.M.O.s as “frankenfood”; American companies, like Kashi, are censured for marketing products as “natural” when they contain genetically modified ingredients; and a fleet of cars, topped with giant, fish-shaped cartoon renditions of corn and tomatoes, is parading across the country to protest what it calls “fishy food.”

Psychologists have long observed that there is a continuum in what we perceive as natural or unnatural. As the psychologist Robert Sternberg wrote in 1982, the natural is what we find more familiar, while what we consider unnatural tends to be more novel—perceptually and experientially unfamiliar—and complex, meaning that more cognitive effort is required to understand it. The natural is seen as inherently positive; the unnatural is not. And anything that involves human manipulation is considered highly unnatural—like, say, G.M.O.s, even though genetically modified food already lines the shelves at grocery stores. As Michael Specter put it, “The history of agriculture is the history of humans breeding seeds and animals to produce traits we want in our crops and livestock.”

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