ST. LOUIS/PRNewswire/ — Despite prolific and vocal campaigning by anti-biotechnology activist groups against national food manufacturers and retailers, research conducted this year by the United Soybean Board (USB) demonstrates that a surprisingly low number of U.S. consumers are aware of activism related to biotechnology. These findings, part of USB’s 2001-2002 Annual Report on Consumer Attitudes About Nutrition indicate that while the voices of the activist groups may be loud, few are accepting their message.

According to USB’s survey, 48 percent of consumers responded that they do not know enough about biotechnology to say how they view the use of genetically modified ingredients in food products. Out of the 62 percent who were aware of the term “genetically modified,” only 19 percent were aware of activist groups linked to the issue. Out of that 19 percent, 80 percent say they have not taken any action such as boycotting products or writing food companies, based on information that activist groups have provided. “If you project this back to the total population represented in our survey, less than four percent of consumers have taken any action in regard to genetically modified food,” stated Mississippi soybean farmer and USB Board member Jerry Slocum.

Other industry studies have shown similar results. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) released a study titled U.S. Consumer Attitudes Toward Food Biotechnology in early 2001, which shows that 64 percent of Americans expect to benefit from biotechnology within the next five years. Only two percent of the consumers polled named genetically modified food as a food safety concern. Also, when asked what if any information not currently included on food labels would they like to see, only two percent cited “genetically modified” as a preference. And contrary to activist claims that increasing numbers of consumers do not want biotech products in their food, IFIC’s study found that 61 percent of Americans surveyed believe and can state how biotechnology will benefit them or their families in the next five years.

“We have seen some high profile food companies and retailers come under attack as anti-biotech activists claim that consumers are demanding non-biotech ingredients. Some of these companies have made concessions, only to be met with more demands from activist groups. According to our research, these food companies may be spending millions at a time when resources are becoming more scarce, to address a concern that is held by a very small minority of the population,” Slocum stated.

The United Soybean Board is a farmer-led organization comprising 62 farmer-directors. USB oversees the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. USB has conducted research on consumer attitudes about nutrition for the past eight years.

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SOURCE: United Soybean Board