Shoppers back GM in face of rising food costs

More than a third of shoppers think genetically-modified foods should be allowed to be sold in the UK.

Research carried out on behalf of the Crop Protection Agency found 35% of consumers would support GM foods being stocked on supermarket shelves, while 37% think they should be allowed if they were nutritious.

In the face of rising grocery bills, the number of people who said they would back GM food rose to 44% if the technology kept food prices down. That figure increased to 46% if GM foods proved safe for the environment.

The findings came after 1,009 UK shoppers were asked about their concerns about food security. Conducted by Network Research between 16 and 19 May this year, the research also aimed to find out how rising food prices were affecting people’s shopping and consumption habits.

Published in the CPA’s booklet Impact of the Global Food Crisis: Changing Attitudes among UK Shoppers this week, the research showed consumers were increasingly concerned about food security.

The majority (78%) said the UK should be more self-sufficient and that the government should be responsible for increasing food production to ensure there was a reliable supply of quality, affordable food.

They also said they were concerned about the rising cost of food, with almost 70% claiming they spent more on their food than 12 months ago, with expenditure on shopping now averaging £66.80 a week.

“It is clear that rising food prices are driving major changes in people’s attitudes to food and how it is produced,” said CPA chief executive Dominic Dyer.

“Consumers are becoming more informed and concerned about the global factors affecting food prices and availability and the majority now see a positive role for science and technology in maintaining a safe, secure and affordable food supply.”

Mr Dyer said the implications of the research would be discussed with politicians, scientists and food chain stakeholders at a meeting at Westminster next month.

Key findings:

£66.88 – the average amount shoppers spend on food each week

68% wand food from sustainable sources

82% think organic food is too expensive

58% prefer to buy British

53% prefer to buy locally-sourced food

78% believe the UK should be more self-sufficient

59% think increasing food production is a government responsibility