US consumers are less informed about genetically modified foods than they were two years ago, according to a survey.

The survey by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, a Washington DC-based GM research group, found that 34% of respondents said they had heard “a great deal” or “some” information about GM foods, compared with 44% of respondents in 2001, reported Agence France-Presse.

The Pew Initiative said its survey indicated that US consumers do not know how prevalent GM foods are in the US. The research group estimates that 70-75% of processed foods in grocery stores contain GM ingredients, but 58% of respondents said they did not think they had eaten GM foods.

The group polled 1,000 US consumers over a five-day period in August and compared the responses with the results from a similar survey carried out in March 2001.

The Pew Initiative said its survey showed consumer confidence in GM foods was higher if products had FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval.

“When it comes to genetically modified products, the US public clearly supports the role of regulatory bodies like the FDA to provide an independent safety approval for new biotechnology food products,” the Pew Initiative’s executive director Michael Rodemeyer was quoted by AFP as saying.

“This finding suggests that the actions of government agencies are likely to play an important role in influencing public acceptance of the next generation of agricultural biotechnology products.”