Public 'ambivalent' over GM food
The British public is now ambivalent on the issue of genetically-modified food, a new survey suggests.
The British Science Association (BSA) research found that 27% of people think GM food should be encouraged - a drop from 52% of people who said they agreed with it in a 1996 survey. A total of 30% of people do not think the practice should be encouraged, the BSA said.
Sir Roland Jackson, chief executive of the BSA, said the survey showed "a pretty high awareness of GM food" and considerable interest in the subject, with two-thirds of respondents interested in it.
However, he added that "support for GM foods is mixed" and there is "ambivalence as to whether or not it should be encouraged".
Sir Roland said: "This survey suggests that the debate on GM may have moved on as people recognise that it is one set of approaches among many that can contribute to food production.
"Nevertheless it remains important for scientists and policy-makers to understand and incorporate public perspectives as they seek to develop new applications and policies."
Asked which GM crops they would be happy to see grown in the UK, a total of 64% said they would theoretically be supportive of rice crops with built-in Vitamin A being produced.
A total of 58% said they would be happy to see wheat crops grown with a pheromone that would reduce the need for pesticides, while 28% said they would be supportive of a scheme that delayed the ripening of melons to give them a longer shelf life.
Just over 2,000 people were surveyed for the BSA study.