When Americans think about the benefits of biotech foods, they primarily think of higher yields and greater agricultural productivity. When asked in the December 1999 Angus Reid/Economist survey to mention the "main benefits or advantages of genetically modified foods," the most cited responses were increased yields, productivity or efficiency (24%), improved nutritional value or health benefits (16%), and improved quality of food (13%). Importantly, nearly one in four (24%) said they could not mention any benefits of GM foods.
Although it appears that most Americans see potential benefits in the future and do not oppose research and development of GM foods, they are divided on the actual application of biotechnology in the food they eat in the present. A July 2005 Gallup survey found that 45% supported "the use of biotechnology in agriculture and food production" while 45% did not. This is a slight decline in support from a Gallup poll in July 2001, in which a bare majority (52%) were in support, while 38% said they were opposed. A similar result was found in an April 2000 Gallup survey, which found 51% in support and 41% opposed.  When asked to speculate about the risks and benefits of "developing and growing these new plants and crops" in a June 2000 Harris survey, 48% said the risks outweigh the benefits; 38% thought the benefits are greater than the risks.  Similarly, the May 2000 Texas A&M study found that 45% disagreed with the assertion that "the risks of GM foods are acceptable," while 39% agreed.  Also, in the February 2000 Angus Reid study, 48% disagreed that "in the long run, the potential benefits of genetically modified foods will outweigh the potential risks." Forty-three percent agreed with that statement. 
When offered the option of saying that they do not have enough information to make a judgment about the safety of GM foods, a plurality will choose that option, as 46% did in a January 2001 survey by the Mellman Group and Public Opinion Strategies. In that poll, 29% said they thought "genetically modified foods" are "basically safe" and 25% considered them "basically unsafe." 
Asked whether GM food is generally something positive or negative, the public is also divided, but leans toward a negative view.