US: Consumer acceptance of GM food remains higher in US than Europe
The report said that as an expected record harvest of corn and soybeans gets underway in the United States, with some 50 million acres (20 million hectares) planted with GM seeds, "food makers and consumers are not alarmed even as advocacy groups step up the pressure." Kathy Knuth, a spokeswoman for Kraft Foods unit of Philip Morris, was quoted in the report saying that "what we're seeing and hearing from consumers indicate that consumers in the United States are confident in the safety of the products that are on the market."
But at least one recent study suggests American are becoming more sceptical. The International Food Information Council study showed 59% surveyed in May thought biotechnology would benefit them, versus 78% in 1997. However, another study shows that US consumers, who spent US$1 trillion last year at supermarkets and restaurants, "appear to be confident of government claims that GM foods are safe."
CNN Food Center said that in Europe, where consumers have faced major health scares as "mad cow" disease, the public lacks faith in government "to ensure food safety and is more sceptical about bioscience itself," according to a statement by Christine Bruhn, director of the Center for Consumer Research at the University of California at Davis.
The report said that as much as 70% of the foods on US grocery store shelves contain ingredients derived from GM corn, soybeans, cottonseed, potatoes and other crops, "in everything from cereal to salad dressing to potato chips." US food companies stress they back the conclusions of government agencies that have deemed genetically engineered crops safe, and many insist they have no plans to remove the ingredients from their products. Several of America's large food manufacturers said that they can avoid using biotech crops in Europe because non-GMO supplies are easier to source there.
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