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Surveys show continued strong support for agricultural biotechnology

An International Food Information Council (IFIC) report released on Oct. 23 concludes that 84 percent of Americans have favorable or neutral impressions of agricultural plant biotechnology, while less than 16 percent hold an unfavorable impression.

According to the 2008 Food Biotechnology: A Study of US Consumer Trends Survey commissioned by IFIC, the majority of Americans would be likely to purchase foods from plants produced through biotechnology for specific benefits, including 78 percent who responded that they would be more likely to purchase foods produced through biotechnology that required fewer pesticides as well as products that provide more healthful fats like Omega-3.

The IFIC survey follows several recent studies published that demonstrate growing support for agricultural biotechnology worldwide.

On Oct. 14, The European Union released a report entitled: Do European Consumers Buy GM Foods? The EU funded study found that consumers are buying foods containing biotech ingredients, despite a perceived opposition to biotechnology in the EU.

The study traces consumers’ actual shopping behaviors with respect to agricultural biotechnology products in ten EU countries following the EU introduction of a mandatory labeling program for biotechnology foods in 2003.

The results unveil significant discrepancies when comparing people's everyday choices at supermarkets to the attitudes they expressed towards biotechnology foods in questionnaires.

Nearly half of the people who bought agricultural biotechnology-labeled foods said they would not buy such products, while 30 percent of consumers buying them did not know whether they had bought them.

In September, EuropaBio, the European biotech industry association, released data demonstrating that more European Union farmers are choosing to use biotechnology crops to boost their productivity despite a 10-year moratorium on new product approvals.

An Asian Food Information Centre (AFIC) survey published in early October reported that in light of the region's growing demand for high volumes of quality food, consumers in China, India, Japan, Philippines and South Korea are ready to accept foods produced using agricultural biotechnology.

The report, entitled Food Biotechnology: Consumer perceptions of food biotechnology in Asia, found that in the midst of heightened media attention on food concerns, Asian consumers have high confidence in the role agricultural biotechnology can play in increasing future food supplies and are open-minded to the various benefits of food biotechnology.

In addition, the study found that Asian consumers are especially inclined to accept plant biotechnology if the technology contributes to a more sustainable way of producing foods.

Similar to the European Union consumer study, the AFIC report concluded that the presence of labeling of biotechnology-derived ingredients is not of significant importance to consumers in their choice of foods.

TAGS: Management
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