Consumers support the use of food biotechnology – including wheat biotechnology – when they consider its potential benefits for reducing the impact of food and food production on the environment and for improving sustainability.
That’s the primary conclusion of survey data released this week by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), which has done similar surveying for a decade and a half to explore consumers’ perceptions of plant and animal biotechnology.
This year, consumers responded most positively to benefits of biotechnology for the environment and sustainability. More than three-quarters (77 percent) of consumers would be likely to purchase foods produced with biotechnology due to their ability to reduce pesticide use.
Fully 80 percent of consumers said they would be likely to purchase bread, crackers, cookies, cereal or pasta products containing wheat that was grown using plant biotechnology if they were produced using sustainable practices to feed more people using fewer resources such as land and pesticides.
While products containing wheat grown using biotechnology are still up to a decade away from being commercially available, this data is an important baseline from which to consider acceptance measures in coming years.
Other key take-aways from the survey touched on sustainability, acceptance of food biotechnology and food safety.
The data showed half of consumers have heard or read at least “a little” about the concept of sustainability in food production, an increase from 2008 when 41 percent had and 2007 when 30 percent had.
About seven in ten Americans said this year that they have heard or read at least “a little” about biotechnology, which is steady from previous years. More consumers this year said they believe there are foods produced through biotechnology in the supermarket now (28 percent) compared with 2008 (23 percent), although these consumers are still the minority.
The majority of consumers also said they are somewhat or very likely to purchase a variety of produce, such as tomatoes or potatoes, modified by biotechnology to provide more healthful fats like Omega-3s, to avoid trans fats or to make them taste better or fresher.
Nearly seven in ten consumers (69 percent) are somewhat or very confident in the safety of the U.S. food supply.
Much more about the survey’s findings is available from IFIC’s website at http://www.foodinsight.org/Resources/Detail.aspx?topic=2010_Consumer_Perceptions_of_Food_Technology_Survey.
Survey information from past years is at http://www.foodinsight.org/Resources/Detail.aspx?topic=Consumer_Insights_Regarding_Food_Biotechnology.