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Apr 16, 2009

European Consumer Polls on GM Foods

GMO Compass, a website set up with funding from the European Commission’s Sixth Framework Programme has reported on the conclusions from eight different surveys on European consumer attitudes towards gene-modified (GM) foods.

This review of concluded:

1) European consumers still have reservations about GM foods.  However, this is not a "blanket refusal"

2) there is still a very big demand for information on GM foods;

3) only a small portion of the population has formed a definite opinion on GM foods;

4) more than 40 % of consumers surveyed who had already formed a ‘decided’ opinion on GM foods spoke positively of them;

5) acceptance of GM foods technology has increased steadily since 1999,

6) GM products having significant environmental or consumer benefits were rated positive by more than half the consumers and would be bought;

7) around 80% of consumers tested do not actively avoid GM products when shopping,

8) in an actual shopping scenario, consumers bought the cheapest food, regardless if it was a GM food product or not;

Former EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson noted of the conclusions, "[p]ublic fears may be misplaced, but they cannot and should not be dismissed. We ...need to do a better job of setting out the issues so that people are aware of the potential benefits of GM food ...".

The polls reviewed in the report included:

1) Consumerchoice (2006-2008), Country: European Union, conducted for King’s College London , EU project

2) Eurobarometer (2002), Country: Europe, Conducted for EC’s Directorate-General for Research

3) Eurobarometer (2005), Country: Europe, Conducted for EC’s Directorate-General for Research

4) Eurobarometer (2007), Country: Europe, Conducted for EC’s Directorate-General for Research

5) Knowledge and acceptance of genetically modified foodstuffs (2004), Country: Hungary, conducted for Central Food Research Institute, Budapest, Hungary

6) Consumer attitudes to food standards (2007), Country: UK, Conducted for Food Standards Agency, UK

7) Public tracker (2008), Country: UK, Conducted for Food Standards Agency, UK

8) GM Foods - Consumer Research, Country: UK, Institute of Grocery distribution, UK

In contrast to the GMO Compass report, EurActiv.com reports that attitudes in individual Member States, however, attitudes towards GE are very different.  For example, 46 % of consumers in the Czech Republic approved of GM foods. With 38 % and 34 % respectively, such approval is also comparatively high in Portugal and Spain. In contrast only 14 % of Greeks and 13 % of Luxembourgers are in favor of GM technology.

For more see: "Opposition decreasing or acceptance increasing?," GMO Compass, 16 April 2009.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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