GENET archive


3-Food: One in two Slovaks think genetically modified food harmshealth

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  One in two Slovaks think genetically modified food harms health
SOURCE: Slovak Spectator, Slovakia, by Beata Balogova
DATE:   7 Jul 2004

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One in two Slovaks think genetically modified food harms health

HALF of polled Slovaks think that genetically modified food has a
negative effect on people's health, the TNS agency told the SITA news wire.

The agency carried out the survey in May on a representative sample of
1,015 respondents to monitor the attitude of Slovaks towards modified
foods. Slovakia's EU membership has automatically allowed the use of some
genetically modified foods on Slovak territory.

The view that genetically modified food has a detrimental effect on
health was held more often by younger people between the ages of 18 to 29
and 30 to 39, people with higher levels of education, and respondents
living in larger cities - in Bratislava and Kocice.

Only one in 10 of those polled could not judge the influence of such
products on human health.

Three-quarters of respondents are familiar with the concept of
genetically modified food. Familiarity with the term grows with the level
of education and the size of the municipality they live in.

Three-quarters of those polled would also reconsider the consumption of a
product, should they find a warning about genetic modification on its

Of those polled, 36 percent would not consume a genetically modified food
product at all and 38 percent would reduce their consumption of it.

Only a quarter of respondents would continue to consume a product
containing genetically modified ingredients without any reduction.


                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  GM food? 'No, thank you,' say Slovaks
SOURCE: Slovak Spectator, Slovakia, by Martina Pisarova
DATE:   3 Dec 2001

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GM food? 'No, thank you,' say Slovaks

[GENET/HM: the only other GMO-related article in the Slovak Spectator archive]

According to a recent survey, the vast majority of Slovaks say they do
not want to eat genetically modified (GM) food and prefer a naturally
grown diet.

However, shoppers are as yet not able to tell which food has undergone
the modification.

The survey, carried out by Focus agency and ordered by Greenpeace
Slovakia, was published in October 2001 and revealed that 88% of
respondents preferred natural food over GM, and 92% agreed that all
modified food should have a GMO (genetically modified organism) label on
the package.

More than 60% of respondents thought that GM food should be banned.

"GM food sounds scary. If given the choice, I'd definitely go for natural
food. But now there's not much I can do. Except for some tofu cheese
which has the label already, I can't tell which food is natural," said 23
year-old Jana Bakova from Bratislava.

But soon she will be able to tell the difference. A paragraph within the
country's food code requests producers give consumers details about a
product's genetic modification as of January 1, 2002.

In line with EU legislation Slovak producers will have to make sure to
place a GMO label on the respective packages.

Should a producer fail to do so, State Veterinary and Food Inspection
institute will be able to fine the company up to Sk1 million (USD20,000).

According to Jan Stulc, head of the controls department with the Slovak
Agricultural and Food Inspection (SPPI) unit in Bratislava, the public
animosity towards GM was partly a result of lacking information combined
with "the one-sided, anti GM argument presented in media".

"Media and environmentalists scared people although it hasn't been
scientifically proven that GM food has a negative impact on people's
health," _tulc said adding that he thought the GM process was in its
essence comparable to a centuries' long practice of plant cultivation.

According to the European Commission's glossary genetically modified food
is "foods and food ingredients consisting of or containing genetically
modified organisms, or produced from such organisms". GMO is defined as
"an organism produced from genetic engineering techniques that allow the
transfer of functional genes from one organism to another".

Of the GM food available in Slovak stores the majority is US imported
vegetables such as tomatoes and potatoes and products made of them. Peter
Siekel, geneticist with the Food Research Institute in Bratislava
estimated that about 30% of soy products contained GMO.

An expert with the US Department of Agriculture David Heron who recently
participated at a workshop on legal aspects of GM food use organised in
May 2001 in the Slovak town of Nitra, said that it was the scientists'
duty to see that food offered to consumers was safe above all other concerns.

"For me as a scientist seeing the great losses on harvests in the US and
around the world makes me think about the possibilities offered by GMO.
But I'm primarily interested in the safety of all products.," Heron said.

Martin Hojsik, co-ordinator of Greenpeace's anti GM campaign did not
agree. Although he said that Slovak food companies did not produce food
containing GMO his organisation has appealed to about 65 retail shops and
food producers around the country not to sell or produce imported GM food.

As a result of their actions various retail shops in Slovakia such as
Billa have pledged not to sell GM food or not to include GM substances to
their own products, such as Tesco's, or Carrefour.


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