Public Support for GM Food Drops in Australia

by jeeg 28. October 2010 20:17

Australians continue to support biotechnologies that provide health and environmental benefits, but support for genetically modified foods has dropped since 2007, a new national survey has found.

The latest study of public perception towards biotechnologies – conducted biannually over the past 10 years – was released this week by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

Biotechnologies of key interest to the public include genetic modification (GM), cloning, stem cell research and using organisms to clean up pollution.

Dr Craig Cormick from the Department’s National Enabling Technologies Strategy team said stem cell use remained the most accepted application, with 92 per cent of respondents perceiving stem cell technology as beneficial to human health.

GM foods remained as one of the least supported biotechnologies.

Over the past four years, support for GM foods increased from 64 per cent in 2005 to 77 per cent in 2007. In 2009-10, public support for GM foods dropped to 67 per cent.

Mr Cormick said more research and better labelling systems in place for GM foods was key to changing public perceptions.

“It is actually getting harder to give a single figure for support or not for GM foods,” he said.

“While 67 per cent say GM foods are acceptable, half of those opposed would change that position if there was long-term evidence of no harm being caused.

“And 45 per cent of those opposed to GM foods would change their position if labelling explained what ingredients had been modified and why.”

The latest national study of public perception towards biotechnologies was conducted by independent company IPSOS Eureka Social Research Institute between December 2009 and June 2010. Focus groups and mixed telephone and computer polling of a random sample of more than 1,000 Australians aged 18 years and over were conducted for the study.

A report of the full findings is available here.

Originally reported in Food Magazine.


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