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Saturday, September 4, 1999 Published at 04:31 GMT 05:31 UK


GM food 'more worrying than BSE'

The GM industry is troubling consumers, a survey finds

Genetically-modified food has overtaken BSE as the top food safety issue for nearly half the UK public, a survey has said.

And almost a third of those interviewed said they did not feel they could trust the government on food safety issues.

Food under the microscope
The public has grown more opposed to GM technology over the past year, said Mintel, who carried out a survey of 1,000 adults.

Some 47% believe that GM food is the most pressing food safety concern, compared with 36% in 1998.

The BBC's Karen Bowerman reports
Only 36% said they considered BSE to be the over-riding food safety issue.

The research suggested that GM farm-scale trials and worries over food labelling have hardened opinion against GM foods.

BSE's knock-on effect

One-fifth of the adults interviewed said they were so fearful of GM food they would never knowingly eat it or give it to their family.

Women were more worried about GM food than men, with more than 50% registering concern. And 53% of Londoners were unhappy about it, compared with 38% of Scots.

Three-quarters of those surveyed said GM foods should be clearly labelled, while 37% called for more research into the technology.

Some 47% said they felt they did not know enough about the technology to make an informed judgement.

Researchers said people felt they had been lied to over BSE, and this was having a knock-on effect on the general attitude to GM foods.

"Memories of the BSE crisis will continue to beset the efforts of biotechnology companies in their efforts to develop GM foods," said James McCoy, Mintel's senior consultant on consumer goods.

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