GeneWatch PR: 77% of the public believe there should be a ban on growing genetically engineered crops and food in Britain.

Press Release

The conclusive results of a new MORI poll indicate that the vast majority of the British public are currently opposed to the growing of genetically engineered crops in this country – the questions, results and poll techniques are attached.

Commissioned by GeneWatch, the independent organisation which monitors developments in genetic engineering, the MORI poll shows that 77% want a ban on the growing of such crops until their impacts have been more fully assessed. A similar number (73%) are concerned that genetically engineered crops could interbreed with natural, wild plants and cause genetic pollution.

The MORI poll also reveals that 61% of the public do not want to eat genetically modified foods (an 8% increase since a similar MORI poll was conducted in December 1996) and 58% of the public oppose the use of genetic engineering in the development of food (a 7% increase on 1996).

"How much more evidence does the Government need that the public do not want genetically engineered foods and that this opposition is increasing?" said GeneWatch Director, Dr Sue Mayer. "Until now, the Government has taken little account of public opinion and has been complacent about the risks of introducing genetically engineered crops."

From next year, herbicide resistant oilseed rape could be the first genetically engineered crop to be grown commercially in Britain. A GeneWatch report, "Genetically Engineered Oilseed Rape: Agricultural Saviour or New Form of Pollution?", to be published tomorrow, concludes that new research casts doubts on previous safety assessments and that serious damage could be done to the environment and farming.

Public rejection of genetically engineered foods could have serious consequences for food producers and retailers, who would be forced into an increasingly difficult search for products which could be guaranteed to be non genetically engineered. Farmers could be faced with major problems from genetic pollution and uncontrollable herbicide resistant weeds. "In fact, the only people who are likely to benefit are the huge multinational companies which are developing the crops," says Dr Mayer. "The Government should not be rushed into introducing this new technology but should listen to its electorate and declare an immediate halt to the commercial exploitation of genetically engineered crops until the whole issue has been properly evaluated."


For more information, please contact GeneWatch on:

Tel: +44 (0)1298 871898
Fax: +44 (0)1298 872531

or Kay Wright/Michele Corrado at MORI on 0171 928 5955

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