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Majority believe GMOs should be traceable and labelled, new poll finds

The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill is making its way through the House of Lords, but the results of a new poll suggest there would be little support for lower regulations of so-called “precision bred organisms” compared to other Genetically Modified Organisms in foods and farming.

Cows. Credit: Ruth Westcott | Sustain

Cows. Credit: Ruth Westcott | Sustain

According to a YouGov Poll, commissioned by Beyond GM, the overwhelming preference of adults in the UK is for all GMOs in the farming and food system to be regulated, traceable and labelled:

  • 79% of adults in the UK think that precision bred crops, animals and foods should be clearly labelled on the food package
  • 83% think precision bred organisms should undergo safety testing before being put on sale
  • 80% think they should undergo environmental safety testing
  • 79% think they should be traceable through the farming and food system

The new bill creates a new subclass of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) – the Precision Bred Organism (PBO) – which the government says no longer needs to be regulated, assessed, traceable, labelled or monitored once it is in the food system. It allows GMO developers to self-certify the safety and fitness of their organisms and places minimal restrictions on the planting of PBOs. The bill applies to England only.

The term “precision bred organism” does not exist in legislation anywhere else in the world and public awareness of this term is low – 87% of adults in the UK had heard of the term GMO but 83% of those who had heard of the term GMO had never heard of a PBO. 

Lack of awareness of this term is problematic for a meaningful public debate on such a fundamental change to farming and food regulations.

Beyond GM Director, Pat Thomas said:

“People’s unfamiliarity with the term ‘precision bred organism’ is, we believe, proportionate to how disconnected and excluded so many feel from the regulatory debate. This lack of awareness has become a justification for government and the Food Standards Agency to engage in what it calls public education. The problem is that this public education is invariably more like indoctrination, providing only the narrative and the information that the government wants citizens to have.”

You can read the results on Beyond GM's website here

Published Friday 18 November 2022

Sustainable Farming Campaign: Sustain encourages integration of sustainable food and farming into local, regional and national government policies.

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