Public opposition to GM foods mounting

Concerns about genetically modified (GM) food products are growing amongst the British public, a survey has revealed this week.

The public opinion survey from Which?, the independent consumer guide, carries the clear message that people in the UK do not want GM food, and feel considerably stronger about the issue than they did two years ago.

Despite the possible introduction of GM crops in the UK now moving closer, only a quarter of those questioned supported them, compared with a third in 2002. The overwhelming concerns were related to the long-term health consequences, with a majority of 73%, as well as the impact the crops could have on the environment.

Figures from the survey also revealed that the number of people concerned about the use of GM in food production had risen significantly to 61%. The percentage of those in the UK who tried to avoid GM foods and ingredients had also risen to 58%.

Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett gave a green light for the growth of herbicide tolerant GM maize, but has still rejected the commercial cultivation of other GM crops.

Malcolm Coles, editor of Which?, said the situation could soon become more complex as the Government would shortly be consulting on the measures needed for GM crop growth in the UK, which would make it even harder for consumers to avoid.

“Consumers clearly don’t want GM food and are hardening their stance against it,” Mr Coles said. “It’s hardly surprising when questions still remain about the risks for health and the environment. The Government has ignored public opinion on this subject for long enough. It needs to rethink its policy before going ahead with growing these crops commercially.”

By Jane Kettle

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