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Study Concludes Biotech Food Losing Ground with Consumers

(13 June - Cropchoice News) -- New numbers on consumer acceptance of biotech are out. In a survey released late last week, market research firm Angus Reid Group says biotech foods are losing ground in the US and abroad. A majority of American consumers now see biotech food negatively, according to the study. Reid says "Americans are growing more disenchanted with the concept [of GMO food]. Forty-five percent of Americans held a negative view when polled by the Angus Reid Group in 1998, compared to 51 per cent earlier this year." The majority of American and Canadian consumers surveyed said they'd like to learn more about biotech.

The study also polled consumers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Like the US, in 7 of the 8 foreign countries surveyed, the majority were worried about biotech. In Canada, the number concerned has jumped from 45% two years ago to 59% this year. Ironically it was in Brazil, which is benefitting from increased demand for its non-GMO soybeans, where biotech was viewed most positively. Only 45% of Brazilian consumers were worried about biotech, compared to 71%, 73%, and 82% in France, Germany, and Japan, respectively.

According to Joanna Karman of Angus Reid, "Genetic modification has become one of the top three issues facing the agriculture and food industry in many countries, ranking up there with pesticide use and topped only by the future of agriculture as it relates to farmers and loss of the family farm." Karman says American and Canadian consumers "see themselves as shouldering the risks, but not reaping the benefits. It should be no surprise that there is a pushback. Consumers are becoming less confident and less comfortable with this technology."

Reid surveyed 5000 consumers in the study. More information on the study can be found at the company's website, www.angusreid.com.

SOURCE: Angus Reid