23 October 1998

Shoppers snub GM

MOST consumers want supermarkets to stop selling genetically modified (GM) food, according to a survey released on Tuesday. Of the 2000-plus shoppers interviewed, 58% said stores should not stock GM products.

The survey, conducted for Friends of the Earth by pollsters NOP, also showed that while 27% favoured GM products, the majority opposed food with GM ingredients.

Customers at Marks and Spencer were most opposed to GM products, with 65% saying they wanted the supermarket to ban such items from its shelves.

At the two biggest supermarket chains, Tesco and Sainsburys, 60% of shoppers were against GM products.

Tesco has already pledged to label products which contain GM ingredients. Sainsburys has removed GM soya and maize protein and flour from many of its own-brand products.

Junior farm minister Jeff Rooker welcomed the survey. "I welcome any initiative that encourages public debate on genetically modified foods," he said. "If the majority of shoppers feel that genetically modified foods are not for them, this will be reflected in sales figures and on the shop shelves."

Mr Rooker added that where GM foods were used, it was the governments job to ensure they were rigorously assessed for safety before their sale was allowed.