The Washington Post contains an article on a recent survey by Oklahoma State University where over 80 percent of Americans support “mandatory labels on foods containing DNA,”
The Oklahoma State survey result is probably an example of the intersection between scientific ignorance and political ignorance, both of which are widespread.The most obvious explanation for the data is that most of these people don’t really understand what DNA is, and don’t realize that it is contained in almost all food. When they read that a strange substance called “DNA” might be included in their food, they might suspect that this is some dangerous chemical inserted by greedy corporations for their own nefarious purposes.
The article discusses the wider issue of scientific ignorance driving policy decisions, and there is some further comment at io9. A summary of the full survey results is available (PDF).
Define "genetically modified" for me.
1) Anything containing DNA that is encumbered by the constraints of intellectual property and the capitalism and/or politics surrounding it. Specifically, if any human being, directly or indirectly (corporations), is granted legal entitlements to powers and controls over the nature of a living thing and its interactions with other human beings and/or life. (This is my preferred labeling method myself, aka The Food's Been EULA'd)
2) Anything containing DNA, in which the genetic pattern of the DNA has been sufficiently altered from a previous generation outside of natural processes. Specifically, if a human being, or any device or process who's genesis and operations were caused by a human being, are shown to make a single willful and premeditated modification not possible outside of natural processes. Natural processes are defined as those processes already found in nature, or processes considered to be part of Mendelian genetics.
Sorry, but part 2 needs work. In particular, I challenge you to show that ANY genetic change could not occur in nature. (FWIW, humans have some inactive plant virus DNA in their DNA. Probably also some plant DNA, but I don't definitely know that, I just believe it.)
Genes are a lot more mobile over the millennia than people normally assume.
That said, I definitely agree with point 1 (i.e., I want to know if a product is built from patented genes), and I *think* I agree with what you probably meant by point 2. (N.B.: I won't necessarily refuse to buy something just because it depends on patented organic life, but I want to have that information available for consideration.)
OTOH, I consider pesticides considerably more significant than GMO...so far. But there are numerous reports of people who can't eat wheat in the US, but who have no trouble with wheat grown to European criteria. GMO? Pesticides? Something else? It would be nice to be able to collect information...but that requires informative labels.