Interviews and opinions about GMO and Yoghurt +

We wanted to know more about people’s opinions about genetically modified organisms and how their opinion possibly would affect the success of a product such like our conceptual “Yoghurt+”. This was also an easy way of reaching out to people about synthetic biology and informing them of what we do. In addition to this we wanted to know how well informed responsible politicians were in this matter and what they thought about GMO and our project. Go to politicians interviews.

Interviews about GMO with people from Uppsala

One day during the summer we conducted an investigation on what the public really knew about synthetic biology and GMO and what their thoughts were on these subjects. This was done by interviewing 50 persons in the central parts of Uppsala. We started by asking if they knew what the abbreviation GMO stands for (figure 1). If the person being interviewed did not know what the abbreviation stood for we gave a short introduction to the meaning of the word and some examples. One example used were golden rice and another were glowing plants. We then asked, both the people that from the beginning did and did not know what GMO was, if they had an opinion concerning this subject (figure 2).

Figure 1: Here we can clearly see that many people do not know what GMO is or stands for.
Figure 2: After explaining about GMO, we saw that there were mixed opinions about the subject.

We then wanted to know if people would in fact consider drinking our conceptual Yoghurt product, containing different supplements. We began by asking if they ate any supplements, for example vitamins. 19 persons said that they took some kind of supplements, mostly vitamins, while 31 persons said that they did not eat any supplements whatsoever (figure 3) . Following this question, we informed the person being interviewed about our project and our conceptual yoghurt. We then continued to the big question, would they consider drinking our yoghurt if our yoghurt was granted permission by “livsmedelsverket”, Sweden’s equivalent to FDA. Most people would in fact consider drinking the yoghurt but buying the yoghurt would of course depend on taste and price (figure 4).

Figure 3:The majority of people asked did not take any supplements.
Figure 4: An astonishing amount of 80 % of the people we asked would consider drinking our yoghurt, showing that this is a product of the future!

An interesting fact from our market research is that, 60% of those against GMO in general, could still consider drinking our yoghurt.
Here are some quotes from interviewed people concerning their opinions about GMO. All the quotes are translated from Swedish to English

“Spontaneously no, does it end there?”
“Not okay to play creator, anyhow”
“We don't know enough”
“Feels like we won't have any food in the future if we don't use this kind of technology, this is how the future looks like”
“It should be natural”
“Sounds good when you describe it, but who knows what big companies could do with this technology”
“No, I am a farmer and this technology could out compete us”
“Our bodies are not adapted to this”
“I don't think it's okay to genetically modify animals but plants and stuff might be okay”
“As long as it stays within reasonably limits”
“I don't like gray areas. For example, I don't like foster diagnostics” And a quote from a person concerning, drinking our yoghurt.
“It would be okay to launch a product like this in developing countries but not in west, we are a spoiled culture and we don't need it”


Firsthand, not many of the interviewed people knew exactly what GMO was. But after we made a brief explanation of the field, several people had opinions about it. Many people were against GMO, but still a lot of them would drink our yoghurt. This results can tell us that people are still skeptical to the general GMO concept. But when it comes to inventions that can benefit peoples health and economy people tend to accept it anyway.

Our yoghurt+ could definitely be a product of the future.

Meeting with politicians

In Europe, there is a restricted use of GMO. What is the reason for this? We wanted to find out more about this, so we decided to talk with politicians in this matter. We also wanted compare their knowledge and opinions to the general public, from our interviews.

The person we met was Maria Gardfjell, municipal commissioner and representing Sweden third largest political party, Miljöpartiet.

Question 1.
Do you know what GMO stands for and what it is?

She clearly knew what GMO stood for and mentioned the example of modified corn.

Question 2.
What is your party's opinion about GMO?

Here the answer was that they were against GMO, with some exceptions. They thought the biggest problem was that GMO could spread for example between crops at farms, that way affecting the ecosystem. This is one of the biggest arguments against the use of GMO. This opinion was clearly derived from the use of GMO in crops. One example she mentioned is that they were totally against modifying crops to become more resistant against pesticides. She also mentioned economical issues for farmers not using GMO crops in countries were it is legal to use. The question, ”can one take patent on life?” was mentioned.
We also asked if this was a general opinion in the political climate in Sweden and she answered that might be so. The general politician view is still going for the precautionary principle. In later years there have been a trend toward politicians that is more for GMO then against.
Although the general opinion was against GMO, they were open for new applications of GMO in the future. GMO that could be controlled in closed systems was totally no problem. Also when it came to medicines and applications that could benefit our environment, they were more open-minded.

Question 3

Do you take supplements containing for example vitamins or other nutrients?


This question was something we wanted to ask before we told them about our project. The answer was yes.

Question 4

Would you drink our yoghurt product if it was approved and tested by livsmedelsverket. (Swedish FDA)


Here we first explained our whole project to her. The answer from her was yes. We wanted to know what they thought of our project and the future aspects of it. They were positive to the idea, but GMO and food is still something controversial. When it came to our project as an application for administering medicine, they were positive. But when it came to using it as a food supplement, they were more skeptic.


There is still a big skepticism and resistance against several applications of GMO, for example in food stuff. The biggest fear that we concluded from this interview was the fear of GMO spreading and affecting our ecosystem.