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3-Food: 53 % of Montreal's citizens support GE food ban



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TITLE:  Label genetically modified food, almost all poll
        respondents say: Two-third would refuse to eat
        genetically altered fare
SOURCE: The Gazette (Canada), by Jeff Heinrich, edited by AGNET
DATE:   December 29, 1999

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Label genetically modified food, almost all poll respondents say:
Two-third would refuse to eat genetically altered fare

A SOM poll done for The Gazette this month was cited in this
story as finding that Montrealers almost unanimously support
mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods - and just over
half think they should be banned, a poll suggests. As well, if
the stuff was put on a plate in front of them, two-thirds would
refuse to eat it.

The story says that those negative attitudes frustrate the big
food companies that make genetically modified foods in Canada.
They say people need to be told that the stuff is safe to eat.
Robin Garrett, spokesman for the Food and Consumer Products
Manufacturers of Canada was quoted as saying, "The consumer
needs to have a better understanding about what exactly it is
that's happening. It's very complex, and that's the challenge and
I guess that's the frustration from our perspective as an
industry. It is (hard) to explain to Canadians that these foods
are safe and are, for the most part, the same as a traditional
crop."

The story says that in SOM's telephone survey of nearly 1,000
people, 65 per cent said they would not eat genetically modified
foods, 53 per cent thought they should be banned, and 97 per cent
thought they should at least be labeled. But the poll also
revealed some room for acceptance of genetically modified food:
50 per cent more men than women said they would eat it, and so,
too, would close to half the people in upper-income homes. And
the idea of a ban was least supported by young people - 40 per
cent said they favoured a ban, vs. close to 60 per cent of people
over 45.

Support for labeling, by contrast, crossed all demographic lines.
Ottawa is considering a voluntary labeling system: companies
could attach labels flagging their products as being free of
genetically altered ingredients. But items with such ingredients
could still sit unmarked on the shelves. Garrett said labeling
could also be a way to market "foods from biotechnology" for
people who want more nutritious foods or ones free of allergens.
The Gazette survey was conducted by the polling firm SOM between
Dec. 10 and 20, and is based on 966 telephone interviews.
SOM says that 19 times out of 20, a poll such as this results in
reliable numbers with a margin of error of 3.27 percentage
points. 


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