Iowa Public Television

 

GMOs not a worry for many U.S. consumers

posted on May 12, 2000


A STUDY FINANCED BY THE ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION AND CONDUCTED BY THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL POLICY INDICATES GENETICALLY MODIFIED SOYBEANS HAVE SAVED AMERICAN FARMERS MONEY.

ACCORDING TO THE REPORT EVEN AFTER FACTORING IN 160 MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF TECHNOLOGY FEES, U.S. FARMERS SAVED APPROXIMATELY 220 MILLION DOLLARS BY PLANTING BIOTECH VARIETIES. THE PLANTS GENETICALLY ENGINEERED TO TOLERATE HERBICIDES HELPED REDUCE THE NUMBER OF APPLICATIONS NEEDED TO CONTROL WEEDS.

THE SAVINGS AND THE TECHNOLOGY FEES ARE THE REASON U.S. FARMERS AND SEED COMPANIES ALIKE ARE SO CONCERNED ABOUT THE POTENTIAL OF AMERICAN CONSUMERS DEVELOPING A RESISTANCE TO FOOD CONTAINING GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS.

EVEN THOUGH GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS WERE DRIVEN OFF THE SHELVES IN EUROPEAN SUPER MARKETS, GROCERS ON THIS SIDE OF THE POND ARE NOT CONCERNED ABOUT TRYING TO SELL FOOD CONTAINING G-M-Os.

LAST WEEK, STOCKHOLDERS FOR FOOD GIANTS PEPSICO AND KELLOGG VOTED TO ALLOW G-M INGREDIENTS INTO THEIR FOOD LINES. THIS WEEK, SHAREHOLDERS OF THE SUPERMARKET CHAIN SAFEWAY VOTED OVERWHELMINGLY TO SELL PRODUCTS CONTAINING GMOs IN THEIR U.S. STORES.

A SURVEY CONDUCTED BY THE FOOD MARKETING INSTITUTE IN JANUARY OF THIS YEAR COMPARED CONSUMER ATTITUDES ABOUT BIOTECH FOODS WITH A POLL CONDUCTED IN 1996.

THE NEW INFORMATION SHOWS THAT EVEN THOUGH U.S. CONSUMERS ARE UPBEAT ABOUT GENETIC ENGINEERING THERE HAS BEEN A REDUCTION IN ACCEPTANCE OF BIOTECH FOODS.

IN 1996, MORE THAN 75% OF SHOPPERS INDICATED THEY WOULD BE WILLING TO BUY FOODS GENETICALLY ENGINEERED TO RESIST INSECT DAMAGE VERSUS MORE THAN 60% IN THE RECENT POLL. AND THOSE WILLING TO BUY FOODS THAT WOULD TASTE BETTER OR STAY FRESH LONGER FELL 4%.

EVEN SO, THE SURVEY INDICATED ONLY 4 OUT OF 10 U.S. CONSUMERS ARE EVEN AWARE OF BIOTECH FOODS.

AFTER LOSING THE EURO PUBLIC RELATIONS BATTLE, THE U.S. BIOTECH INDUSTRY IS TAKING A NEW TACK, INVESTING $50 MILLION DOLLARS IN MULTIMEDIA CAMPAIGNS ON TELEVISION, IN PRINT, AND ON THE WEB TO HIGHLIGHT THE BENEFITS OF BIOTECHNOLOGY.

AND MAJOR PLAYERS IN THE BIOTECH INDUSTRY ARE MOVING TO MAKE THE PROCESS OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT AND DISTRIBUTION MORE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

TOM HUMPHREY: "We've made a commitment on the part of the industry to start to share the science that each of the companies has and do it in a way what is very transparent so that people have access to that information. Especially when you consider tools like the internet and the ability to communicate information."

EVEN AS THE EUROPEANS AND JAPANESE BECOME MORE RESISTANT TO CONSUMPTION OF FOOD CONTAINING GMOs THERE IS NO INDICATION BIO-TECH CROPS WILL BE SEARCHING FOR A U.S. MARKET IN THE FALL.


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