Most consumers want GM food removed from sale, shows a recent survey of UK shoppers. Even when subjected to misleading and deceptive trade practices two thirds of people remain averse to genetically modified food.
The findings of the UK food survey (1) demonstrate the importance of New Zealand protecting our GM-free status for agricultural exports to international markets demanding clean, safe GM-free food. The UK study echoes surveys showing similar rejection of GM foods by New Zealanders, as well as strong support for the positives of organically produced, locally grown and affordable food.
"Deceptive trade practices designed to make GM food 'more acceptable' may still be working, but only on a minority," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.
"Even when people are told the GM product uses less pesticides or increases yields, despite undisclosed evidence that the opposite is true, most UK consumers are able to smell a rat."
Major supermarkets in New Zealand and in the UK have ensured their House Brands steer away from GE ingredients due to consumer aversion. Other food manufacturers are seeking to secure supply-lines of clean "identity-preserved" GE-free ingredients. After years of rapid expansion the use of soy has declined by around 15% as a filler ingredient in foods.
However the UK study shows a proportion of consumers remain vulnerable to deception with some believing myths about GE foods being properly tested for safety, good for the environment, or that they are helping improve global food security or feed the hungry.
The public demand for GE-free food is being subverted by government official’s support for imported GE ingredients, with worse to come if trade agreements like the TPPA are able to prevent labelling or testing of GE foods. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has just closed submissions for another GM application that seeks to allow Corn and Soy engineered with two new proteins, never before in the food supply, to tolerate the dioxin-producing herbicide 2,4-D and glufosinate.
“If authorities continue to rely on industry studies and approve GE foods, the observed health effects independent scientists have warned of will have an impact for generations,” says Claire Bleakley president of GE Free NZ.
“At least with smoking the associated cancers can be reversed by stopping the next generation from smoking, but if the integrity of the food system is impacted the downstream effects will not be able to be reversed. We must keep our food supply clean and green and GE Free.”
Jon Carapiet 0210507681
Claire Bleakley 06 -3089842 / 027348 6731
1) The Crop Protection Association's survey found that only around a third of shoppers think GM foods should even be allowed to be sold in the UK, unless they are given inducements. The inducements include GM foods being shown to keep prices down, be more nutritious or "proved safe for the environment".
Even under those entirely hypothetical conditions, there is still a majority (over 50%) of UK shoppers who do not think GM foods should even be allowed to be sold in the UK.
This is truly dreadful news for the GM industry. It means a clear majority of shoppers, indeed about two thirds except under hypothetical conditions, don't even want it allowed on the shelves, let alone to buy it!
And it gets worse. Well over 50% of shoppers wouldn't buy GM, or allow it into UK shops, even if it were cheaper, more nutritious and safe for the environment.
Shoppers back GM in face of rising food costs Caroline Stocks,Farmers Weekly, 3 August 2011
GBP66.88 - the average amount shoppers spend on food each week
68% want food from sustainable sources
82% think organic food is too expensive
58% prefer to buy British
53% prefer to buy locally-sourced food
78% believe the UK should be more self-sufficient
59% think increasing food production is a government responsibility