Review Of Fatal Attraction: The Intuitive Appeal Of Gmo Opposition

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Table of contents

  1. Summary and breakdown
  2. Criticism and my opinion
  3. Conclusion

Summary and breakdown

The article starts with an explanation why there is an opposition towards the use of genetically modified crops. The writers explain that most of the opposition arose because people worry about the risks of GMOs. The writers bring up a discrepancy between public opinion and scientific evidence and suggest that either post-Christian- or Romantic movement has something to do with it. With post-Christian movement suggesting a separation between state and church in deciding on what to do with GMOs and the Romantic movement wanting to ‘return to nature’ and believing GMOs to be ‘unnatural’. In the second part of the article, they use the cognitive method, which means viewing using scientific, evolutionary, psychological and cultural aspects of a problem, to understand how peoples intuitions work towards GMOs. They suggest two kinds of reasoning processes. One being fast and automatic and the other one being effortful, reflective and reasoning. They propose that laypeople rely on intuition because they do not take enough time to understand a certain subject. In the third paragraph, the writers delve deeper into why being anti-GMO is so appealing to laypeople. They propose that is has something to do with essentialism. Essentialism is a view that every entity has a certain set of attributes that defines its identity and function. From this view on the world, laypeople draw the conclusion that DNA is something that is concrete and that it is not something to be tinkered with.

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Furthermore, the writers suggest that people think of teleological aspects. Teleological meaning that they look for the purpose and goal of the use of GMOs and often only see it in risks. With that, people who value aspects of teleology may also believe in the ‘intelligent design theory’, the idea that everything has been thought out and created beforehand with a purpose. Finally, the writers mention emotions, especially moral disgust. They point out that laypeople experience disgust in GMOs used for food because the GMOs are ‘contaminated’or ‘poisoned’ with transgenic DNA. In the fourth section of the article, the writers talk about why anti-GMO movements can tap into the intuitive mind of laypeople so easily and how the movements have grown so quickly. This is again explained by the appeals explained in paragraph three. Finally, they conclude that cultural preferences are based on evolved intuitions and that only a cognitive understanding can help swing the opinion about GMOs into the other direction. They suggest more education about biotechnology at younger age and again stress that GMOs are very important for realizing a sustainable growth of the world. They end the article by saying that without informing people about GMOs, they will fall into a fatal attraction to anti-GMO movements, meaning that they will not use logic and reason to deal with this attraction.

Criticism and my opinion

The writers describe two types of reasoning and by doing this, they create a black or white situation. They say that you either fully take effort to use to reasoning and reflection to process information or just go with a fast feeling. I believe that there is also a grey area in which you think about your gut feeling and use your ratio to justify that feeling. They also describe laypeople as uninterested and unable to grasp a certain idea, of which I think that is kind of a ‘high horse’ view. What I mean by that is that a lot of scientists feel superior compared to laymen, but they do not admit to that because of public relation with their possible customers. You can especially read that in the way they use the terms ‘they’ instead of using the term ‘we’.

They are talking about laymen like they have never had a thought process in this way. Instead ofclaiming the laymen are lazy, why not propose that the information is given in a wrong manner, a manner that simply takes too much time to process or just isn’t as useful to laymen as scientists describe. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it! They buy what they believe in”. (Simon Sinek, Golden Circle Theory, 2009). Furthermore, I think that the writers describe the laymen as very gullible, e. g. ‘tomatoes with fish tails’ or ‘killer seeds’. This may be true in some parts of the worldbut not for others. For example in America that could be more true than in my country (The Netherlands), because Dutch people often look at things in a very sober way and are not as gullible. In the end the writers propose to instruct people about biotechnology on younger age so that they may accept it more on a later age. Even though I want GMOs to be accepted, like any biotechnologist, I do not think that this is an ethical way to solve the problem, because this feels like an early precursor of indoctrination. Instead I would propose conducting focus groups and asking for their view and opinion instead of feeding everyone more and more information.


In conclusion, the writers describe a problem that the anti-GMO movements grows larger every day and suggest several reasons why it is so appealing for laypeople to be against GMOs. In the end they suggest that the problem can be solved by more education and a cognitive approach of the problem. I do not fully agree with this, because they create a black or white situation and describe laypeople as less capable of understanding and very gullible towards false information. They propose more education and more information in a cognitive way at a younger age of which I think that it can lead to indoctrination. Thus, I would like to stress the importance of communication studies. They are researching ways, like focus groups, to mediate between laypeople and scientists in a friendly and accessible way so that the information about GMOs can be transferred in a proper manner and the world can grow a step closer towards GMO acceptance.

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