Poll finds gaping chasm in views between U.S. public, scientists

Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:50pm EST
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By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American scientists and the general public hold vastly different views on key scientific issues including the role of people in causing climate change, the safety of genetically modified food, and evolution, a poll released on Thursday showed.

Eighty-seven percent of scientists questioned by the Pew Research Center said human activity was the main cause of global climate change, compared with 50 percent of the public.

Twenty-five percent of the public said there was no solid evidence the climate was warming, up from 11 percent in a similar 2009 survey.

The issue has become increasing divisive, with some leading conservatives expressing doubt that human activity like the burning of fossils fuels that release greenhouse gases is driving a global warming trend.

Scientists from two U.S. government agencies said this month that 2014 was the hottest year on record and blamed human activities for Earth's warming trend.

There was an even bigger chasm over genetically modified foods, with 88 percent of the scientists saying they were safe to eat, compared with 37 percent of the public.

On evolution, 98 percent of scientists said humans had evolved over time, compared with 65 percent of the public.

The findings were based on responses last August from 2,002 U.S. adults nationwide, with a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.   Continued...

An employee stocks produce near a sign supporting a ballot initiative in Washington state that would require labeling of foods containing genetically modified crops at the Central Co-op in Seattle, Washington in this file photo taken October 29, 2013.  REUTERS/Jason Redmond/Files