24 March 2000

Farmers pro biotechnology

SUPPORT for biotechnology among farmers is a lot stronger than anti-GM campaigners make out, according to bio-tech company Monsanto.

It says a survey of farmers it carried out showed 88% support the use of bio-technology in farming. Although nearly three-quarters of those (62% of the total) said they support the technology "with reservations", which centred mainly on a lack of information about the technology, according to a company spokesman.

Just over half of the 2000 respondents said they would consider growing a GM crop, a figure that rose to two-thirds when the market was guaranteed. Only 5% said they "tend to disagree" with the technology and just 1.5% that they "strongly disagree".

This gives a completely different picture to the one painted by anti-GM groups who claim most farmers are against the technology, said a Monsanto spokesman.

Monsantos claims were dismissed by Friends of the Earth, however. "The real story from the survey is that the majority of farmers have reservations about biotechnology," said FoEs Frank Pinnycook.

He said the reluctance of farmers to come forward for recent farmscale trials illustrates the doubts about GM technology. He also attacked the survey finding that 95% of farmers were "aware that some GM crops require significantly less herbicide and/or pesticide".

"They may be aware of that because the bio-tech companies have told them so – but our research has indicated otherwise," said Mr Pinnycook. &#42