Awareness of GM foods between Saudi Arabians and Irish people: A comparative study
Aspects related to GMO food have raised controversial arguments with numerous researches being based on this issue. Awareness has been one of the crucial elements associated with GMO food use. This paper undertakes a comparative analysis of awareness of GMO food in Saudi Arabia and Ireland. The study combined a descriptive and review research designs with both qualitative and quantitative elements. Descriptive data analysis was done. Moreover, a SurveyMonkey was also used. A survey was conducted using a 15-questined questionnaire in a sample of 200, 100 respondents from either of the countries. The study revealed that only 2% and 8% of the respondents had adequate knowledge in GMO food in Saudi Arabia and Ireland respectively. The study also revealed that 61% and 57% of the respondents consumed GMO food in Saudi Arabia and Ireland respectively. Moreover, it was discovered that the media played a crucial role in creating awareness of GMO food. Analysis of the results revealed that awareness of GMO food in Saudi Arabia and Ireland was low. The difference in the level of awareness in either of the countries was not significant. Moreover, media was shown to influence awareness of GMO food in both countries highly.
Genetic modification of food (GMO) refers to the application of biotechnology in the transfer of one or more genes to an animal or plant. This transfer aims at promoting expression of desired trait(s) (Hallman, Cuite & Morin, 2013, p. 2). The issue of GMO has raised various concerns such as ethical, political and health. Health has been the primary issue of concern related to the consumption of GMO food (Maghari & Ardekani, 2011, p. 111). As a result, Akumo, Riedel and Semtanska (2013, p. 222) explains that there is need to regulate and educate the public. Such activities will help create awareness and ensure that there is autonomy while consuming GMO food. A Large majority of people are not yet enlightened about GMO food due to lack of information. Consequently, many researchers have undertaken the initiative to determine public awareness of GMO food. This study takes a different approach from previous studies. This paper seeks to compare public awareness in Saudi Arabia and Ireland.
The method of study considered various aspects essential in inferring the thesis statement. Ireland and Saudi Arabia were considered in this study. Some of the aspects of study involved health concerns, consumption rate, acknowledgement and knowledge of GMO foods. In ascertaining the discrepancies of these factors in the two countries, an exploratory study was conducted. According to Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2007) an explorative study is essential in understanding a matter of concern and allows data collection. The study also used a review design.This study design is crucial in gaining the relevant information regarding the various aspects mentioned above affecting GMO in the two countries (Creswell, 2009). The evaluation involved the use of a 15- questions questionnaire. Some of the questionnaire questions were in the nature of a Likert scale. This research mainly involved the study of behavioral actions. In consideration of this aspect of the study, Use of the Likert scale was essential as it is effective in the study of behavioural perspectives (Hinkin, 1998).
The survey involved an evaluation of various perspectives. As earlier mentioned, the survey was conducted using a questionnaire. The formulation of the questionnaire was in a way that allowed for both qualitative and quantitative data elucidation. The questionnaire evaluated the demographics and the perspectives of the respondents regarding GMO food. Moreover, the study surveyed the awareness of GMO food among the respondents in the two countries. The means of communication through which the respondents learnt of GMO food was also assessed. The questionnaires also assessed the various platforms that can are used in creating awareness. The sample included 200 respondents, half of which came from either of the countries. For qualification, a respondent had to be of the age 18 years and above. However, the sample size was selected randomly from the two countries. Moreover, snowball sampling technique was also used to select the sample size due to the large geographical regions of study in the two countries (Faugier and Sargeant, 1997). The sampling also involved various levels of education to ensure that generalizing the results would not incur ambiguousness.
Data analysis was conducted using scoring for the descriptive data. Descriptive analysis was conducted for the quantitative data that was generated during the survey. Moreover, SurveyMonkey data analysis tool was also used to analyse qualitative data and the open-ended questions (Surveymonkey, 2015, p. 1). This tool was essential in the analysis of the individual responses and open-ended responses. Moreover, the tool was essential for generating summaries of the questions of the survey. A correlation was conducted to determine whether the difference in the attitudes of consumption of GMO food was relevant.
The response from the two countries met gender equality. Highest respondents in both countries were of the age bracket of 26 – 33. O f the 100 respondents, 66% did not have knowledge about GMO food in Saudi Arabia. 32% had medium knowledge while the remaining were enlightened on the matter of GMO food. On the other hand, knowledge distribution in Ireland was different with 37% and 52% having limited and medium knowledge respectively. The remaining respondents were conversant with GMO foods. The media was shown to have a crucial role in creating awareness of GMO foods. Among the respondents interviewed, 43% and 69% claimed that they learnt of GMO food through the media in Saudi Arabia and Ireland respectively.
Consideration of the health effects due to the consumption of GMO food was fairly similar in both countries. Of the individuals who participated, 39% were not sure if consumption of GMO food could result in health complications while 43% believed that it could in Saudi Arabia. The remaining 18% believed that GMO food consumption could not cause health problems. On the other hand, 46% respondents were not sure whether GMO food consumption could cause health problems while 26% believed it could in Ireland. The remaining 15% believed that GMO food consumption could not cause health problems. Most of the health issues associated with GMO food consumption in both countries was associated with aspects related to cancer.
Consumption among the two countries was fairly similar. 61% and 57% of the respondents consumed GMO food in Saudi Arabia and Ireland respectively. The remaining fractions in the two countries did not consume GMO food. Awareness of the circumstances involved in GMO food was also seen to be low in the two countries. A majority of the respondents in the two countries were not aware of the issues regarding GMO food. In consideration of whether it was as a result of GMO or natural, sensitivity in the choice of food was low in both countries. A majority of the respondents indicated that they did not bother to determine whether food was GMO or not. Only 27% and 24% of the respondents were aware of issues surrounding GMO food in Saudi Arabia and Ireland respectively.
The study of various aspects relating to GMO food has been extensively studied. This study considers these perspectives through the comparison of two countries; Saudi Arabia and Ireland. One of the aspects considered in this study is that if awareness. The number of individuals who are informed regarding GMO food is low in both countries. Only 27% of people in Saudi Arabia are aware of GMO food. An almost similar fraction of people in Ireland, which is 24%, are aware of GMO food. Various reasons could have caused the low rate of awareness. Some of the reasons associated with low rate of awareness was the lack of campaigns such as by the government, poor education and similarity of GMO and natural food. Some of the respondents blamed the media for the lack of educating the public. According to Frewer, Miles and Marsh (2002, p. 708), the media has a role in shaping people’s perspectives regarding GMO food. Media is responsible for massive creation of awareness of GMO food, 43% and 69% in Saudi Arabia and Ireland respectively. The government is responsible for the regulation of the policies and promotion of awareness campaigns to inform the public about GMO food. Whitman (2000, p. 8) states that governments are responsible for the regulation of GMO food.
The consumption of GMO food in both countries has been shown to be relatively similar and high. In Saudi Arabia, 61% of the people consume GMO food. In Ireland, 57% of the respondents consume GMO food. The high rate of consumption of GMO food in both countries can be explained by the high level of lack of knowledge and awareness. For instance, a large population claimed that they did not consider whether food was GMO or natural. Moreover, a large percentage of people did not have an idea as to whether GMO food could cause health problems. In Saudi Arabia, 39% of the people did not know whether GMO food could cause health problems. In Ireland, the percentage was 46%. A high percentage of people believed that GMO food could cause health problems in Saudi Arabia as compared to Ireland. However, consumption of GMO food in Saudi Arabia was relatively rampant despite its high association with health problems. This rate of consumption can be accounted for by the higher awareness in Saudi Arabia as compared to Ireland. Vecchione, Feldman and Wunderlich (2014, p. 333) states that there is a correlation between awareness and consumption of GMO food.
This study revealed that awareness of GMO food is low in both countries. The level of awareness is relatively similar in both countries. The difference in awareness in either of the countries is not significant. The study also revealed that the media plays a crucial role in the creation of awareness. It is also prudent to infer that lack of awareness in both countries results to a low level of consideration of whether food is GMO or natural.
This study has highlighted various perspectives related to awareness of GMO food. In consideration of the research results, it is essential to make the following recommendations.
- There is need to promote public education regarding GMO food.
- If effective awareness needs to be achieved, the media would be of a pivotal role in the realization of this.
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