GENTECH archive 8.96-97


New Survey re. Food Biotechnology (fwd)

This survey result is rather interesting - it uses the terminology 
"biotechnology" rather than genetic engineering.  In previous posts 
others have explored the importance of this to survey results.  
I really doubt that poeple understand what this "biotechnology" means 
(vinegar, beer, wine are what in the past have been attributed to 
"boitechnology, NOT GE'ed corn, soy etc) when they answer the survey 
questions (see my earlier post about the levels of understanding of even 
basic genetics in the community).


>Hello.  Below is a press release by the International Food
>Information Council regarding consumer attitudes about food
>biotechnology and labeling requirments.
>Thank you,
>Sarah Kuester
>Public Health Nutritionist
>Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>New Survey Reveals U.S. Consumer Confidence in Food
>Biotechnology, Current FDA Labeling Policy
>Science, Communications Partnerships Urged for International
>Contact:  Amelia Morgan or Kara Davis (202) 296-6540
>(Washington, D.C.- March 27) A new national survey of 1,004 U.S.
>adults released today finds high awareness of food biotechnology,
>strong support for its benefits, and endorsement for the current 
>requirements of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
>Nearly 8 out of 10 (79%) Americans are aware of biotechnology,
>with more than half (54%) saying biotechnology has already provided
>benefits to them and 3 out of 4 consumers (78%) predicting they will
>benefit from biotechnology in the next five years. Nearly half of the
>respondents realized foods produced through biotechnology were
>already in supermarkets. (Staples such as corn, potatoes and
>soybeans are among the foods enhanced through plant biotechnology.)
>When asked about current FDA requirements that mandate labeling
>of foods produced through biotechnology only when there is a
>substantial change in a food's composition, nutritional value or
>allergenicity, more than three-quarters (78%) of consumers indicated
>they support the FDA policy. When presented with the position of
>some critics of the FDA policy, who believe all food biotechnology
>products should be labeled, nearly 6 in 10 (57%) of Americans still
>maintained their support of the current labeling policy.
>The survey, commissioned by the International Food Information
>Council (IFIC), was conducted March 21-24, 1997 by the Wirthlin Group.
>"These results clearly underscore the willingness of U.S. consumers
>to accept biotechnology as part of their lives," stated Sylvia Rowe,
>president of IFIC. "American consumers recognize the value of food
>biotechnology, because they appreciate environmental benefits
>such as protecting crops from insect damage while reducing pesticide
>use. They also like the potential for fresher, more healthful and 
>tasting fruits and vegetables made possible through biotechnology."
>Rowe concluded, "Food biotechnology is absolutely critical to
>ensuring an adequate food supply for a rising global population
>today and tomorrow. We must strengthen our partnerships between
>communicators and scientists to ensure that consumers all over
>the world understand the benefits of, and can make informed choices
>about, foods produced using biotechnology."
>Accompanying the release of the new U.S. consumer data was a
>summary of international consumer opinions by North Carolina State
>University professor and noted consumer opinion expert Dr. Thomas
>Hoban and a scientific update by internationally recognized plant
>biologist, Dr. Roger Beachy of the Scripps Research Institute in La
>Jolla, Calif.
>Hoban summarized a number of consumer studies in the March 1997
>issue of Nature Biotechnology and stated, "Food biotechnology
>is a relatively minor issue in the U.S. One of the key drivers of
>consumer acceptance in the U.S. has been consistent and
>proactive educational efforts that have been underway for a
>number of years." In Europe, where consumer acceptance is
>lower than in the U.S., Hoban predicts, "given proper efforts to
>educate the public, agricultural biotechnology should become
>as accepted by European consumers as it has by Americans."
>Dr. Beachy outlined how biotechnology will be used to combat
>plant disease and ensure stable crop supplies in industrialized
>countries like the U.S., as well as developing nations. According
>to Beachy, "Most plants are naturally protected from most diseases,
>but biotechnology helps provide protection to those plants
>susceptible to devastating diseases and insects."
>Beachy's efforts include working to improve food security for
>developing nations through enhanced rice and cassava production
>while increasing yields globally. "We have a choice when it comes
>to feeding tomorrow's world," challenged Beachy. "We can use up
>more land planting crops with marginal output, or we can use tools
>such as biotechnology to increase our yields and minimize the need
>for additional land for crop production."
> -
>The International Food Information Council (IFIC) is a non-profit
>organization that serves as an information and educational resource
>on food safety and nutrition. IFIC provides science-based information
>to journalists, health professionals, government officials and other
>opinion leaders who communicate with the public. Wherever possible,
>IFIC works in partnership with leading third party organizations, such
>as The American Dietetic Association, the President's Council on
>Physical Fitness and Sports, the American Academy of Family
>Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the FDA, USDA
>and EPA. IFIC programs receive support from a broad base of food,
>beverage and agricultural companies.
>Wayne Parrott
>Dept of Crop & Soil Sciences
>The University of Georgia
>Athens,  GA  30602-7272
>Phone (706) 542-0928, FAX (706) 542-0914

Janelle L. Kennard
CRC for Plant Science
PO Box 475
Australian National University.
Canberra  ACT 2601

Phone (06) 249 2878