Could consumer acceptance of genetic engineering be as simple as changing the terms used to describe it? Maybe. Research conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) found that U.S. consumers called the term "genetically modified organism"a big turnoff. An even bigger no-no is the term "transgenic animal." IFIC program manager Susan Pitman says consumers may not know what these terms mean exactly, but they are sure they won't like whatever it is they describe.

On the other hand, consumers liked the terms "animal biotechnology" and "genetically enhanced animal products."

Studies conducted by this nonprofit group found that consumers accept food biotechnology if its benefits are explained. A study conducted in February 1999 showed that 62% of consumers would be likely to buy produce that was modified by biotechnology to taste better or fresher. Even more consumers in the study, 77%, would buy produce modified by biotechnology to protect from insect damage and to require fewer pesticide applications. Contact IFIC, Dept. FIN, 1100 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Suite 430, Washington, DC 20036, 202/296-6540, www.ificinfo.health.org.