Public wants labelling of all GM food

| 26th November 2009
A gm labelled tomato

Consumers want all GM food to be labelled

UK citizens are confused by the current publicly available information on GM foods and want clearer facts made available in shops and supermarkets

There is widespread support for compulsory 'GM' labelling on all food produce in the UK, according to new research.

A survey, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), found consumers were confused by current labelling and wanted more information to be made available on GM food.

'People reported that the labelling of some foods as "non-GM" or "GM-free" had led them to believe that GM ingredients were widely used in other products,' said the survey's findings.

There was support for the development of a GM food range in shops similar to organic ranges or a traffic light system with products labelled according to whether they contained no GM material, GM derived ingredients (such as animals being given GM feed) or GM ingredients.

The research, conducted by the National Centre for Social Research, involved interviews with 30 people and will be used to advise the FSA's new GM Dialogue Steering Group, set up to start a public debate on GM food.

Overall, the study revealed that public knowledge of GM foods was varied. For example, respondents remained largely unaware of the extent to which GM food is already available both in the UK and internationally.

Support for GM was also varied and the survey said, 'transparency and consumer choice' were the key priorities for people of all attitudes towards GM foods.

Responding to the survey, campaign group GM Freeze said it was wrong for the FSA to be conducting research into changing people's views on GM crops.

'The FSA is supposed to be at arm’s length from government and act in
the interest of food safety on behalf of UK citizens,' said GM Freeze campaigner Pete Riley.

'Exploring “the circumstances in which people change their views” on GM is a step too far - the FSA appears to be doing the work of the Government, which does not always coincide with the wishes of UK citizens,' he said.

Useful links
Public attitudes to GM food

FSA fails to alert public to banned GM ingredient
Campaign group finds traces of unauthorised GM linseed in loaf of Marks & Spencer bread and calls on Government food watchdog to issue public alert
Call for publicly funded research into GM crops
Technologies to increase agricultural productivity will allow the UK to help feed the world, says Royal Society report
GM-free Europe: how we could still ban GMOs
Re-nationalising decisions on growing GM crops would allow EU countries to declare themselves GM-free, but could bring new dangers
Public needs to be 'educated' into accepting GM
Companies should counter organic groups' criticisms of food technologies to convince consumers to accept biotechnology and irradiation, says US study
GM lobby just as militant as opposition
Attacks from scientists may be putting off further research into GM crops

More from this author