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Widespread opposition to genetically-modified crops

by 5m Editor
23 August 2007, at 10:22am

FINLAND - Finns take a generally negative view of meat raised with the help of genetically modified feed. According to a survey commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat, half of the population completely disapprove of GM fed, and more than 90 per cent feel that meat raised with such feed should have a label that informs the consumer of its use.

The survey, conducted by Suomen Gallup, shows that barely over one quarter of Finns approve of the use of GM feed in agriculture. Although young people appear less averse to GM food - the most positive attitudes are from men under the age of 25.

Wariness of GM food grows with age. Fewer than one in five respondents over the age of 65 approve of the use of GM grain in animal feed.

Most pork sold in Finland will soon be raised with the help of genetically modified feed, as Finland's largest meat packers have announced that they will be introducing GM soybean feed, which is cheaper than the traditional kind. However, currently the difference in price is very small.

The Meat Board of the Finnish Food and Drink Industries' Federation calculates that the price of pork chop would increase by less than one per cent - or about eight cents a kilo - if producers were to stick to non-GM feed.

However, the association notes that the difference will grow, as the price of traditional soy feed rises faster than that of the GM variety. In the future it might be difficult to find soybeans whose genes have not been manipulated in some way.

The poll suggests that in spite of the price difference, there will still be a market for meat produced in the traditional manner, as 72 per cent say that they are willing to pay at least a little bit more for meat if they can be sure that no GM feed has been used in raising it. One in six say that they would be willing to pay significantly more for GM-free meat.

Women were less concerned about price considerations than men. The most negative view of the prospect of more expensive meat were young respondents, and those living in the north of Finland. Income levels did not appear to play a role in how much more a person was willing to pay for non-GM pork.

Meat Board chairman Pasi Lähdetie is not worried by the results of the poll. He says that views expressed by people in surveys are not always reflected in consumer habits.

"We have experiences on similar surveys concerning organic meat. Compared with the positive opinions, consumption of organic meat has been very low", Lähdetie points out.

Source: HELSINGIN SANOMAT

5m Editor