Consumer knowledge of GMOs is low in general, according to studies based on direct consumer surveys. A survey conducted by the Food Policy Institute at Rutgers University found that US consumers as a whole were fairly uniformed about GMOs, with just 48% knowing that GMOs were available in supermarkets and only 31% believing that they have most likely consumed a GM product.
The majority of participants also self-rated their knowledge to be poor; 48% said that they knew very little about GMOs, whereas 16% felt they knew nothing at all, compared with 30% knowing a fair amount and just 5% knowing a great deal about GMOs. But familiarity with genetic modification seems to vary by country. A cross-cultural survey comparing the knowledge of consumers in the United States, Japan, and Italy showed that US consumers were more likely to be at least somewhat familiar with GMOs (40.9% reported being somewhat or very familiar) compared with Italian (just 28.0%) and Japanese (33.3%) consumers (Wunderlich & Gatto, 2015).
Although GMO-related information may not always come directly from scientific sources, the public tends to trust these sources over alternative sources. More recent surveys revealed similar results, with consumers trusting university scientists the most, followed by farmers, environmental organizations, government agencies, grocery stores, and food manufacturers (in that descending order).We can conclude that although GM products have been in the food industry for decades and continue to increase in use, consumer knowledge and awareness are not improving accordingly. Careful assessment of shortfalls in consumer knowledge of GMOs should be established that can lead to the development of guidelines and policies to improve consumer understanding and knowledge. Future studies should critically examine methods of published scientific information to consumers by using popular channels of information to help increase the volume and quality of GMO-related information available to the average consumer. Furthermore, the education of those responsible for distribute scientific knowledge through such public media sources is of crucial importance in order to avoid risk communication, because their explanations of biotechnology directly inform the public. All in all, these sources should be honest, accurate, provide both pros and cons, should only try to inform the public and not convince them about GMOs.