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Public attitude indicates some willingness to eat genetically modified meat pending cost considerations

According to a Jan. 14 presentation by Bruce Whitelaw of the University of Edinburgh members of the public are willing to eat genetically modified meat contingent upon favorable pricing.

Whitelaw is affiliated with the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and the Roslin Institute, both of which are part of the University of Edinburgh. Whitelaw utilized a Roslin Institute and R(D)SVS survey of American consumers. His “Public Attitudes Toward Genome Edited Meat” presentation was during the Jan. 11-15 International Conference on the Status of Plant and Animal Genome Research in San Diego.

“We based a large part of the survey around the willingness to buy,” Whitelaw said.

The survey involved 1,088 adults. Because the respondents were self-selected, the demographics were skewed toward older, female and rural Americans. All respondents were 17 or older.

The response indicated that 88% have never been vegetarian or vegan, 10% have been vegetarian or vegan but no longer are, and 2% are currently vegetarian or vegan.

The responses were compared to a survey of American Association for the Advancement of Science members. Although only 37% of the respondents believed that genetically modified food is safe to eat, 88% of AAAS members feel safe eating genetically modified food. The survey also asked whether humans have evolved over time, which is believed by 65% of those surveyed and 98% of AAAS members.

A follow-up survey queried 84 food sector respondents, and the response was more positive than the public.

Although the survey was done among Americans, the willingness to pay was translated into euros. If genetically modified meat had no benefits other than lower price consumers were willing to purchase genetically modified meat for an average of 0.5 euros less than non-modified meat. Consumers were willing to pay more for genetically modified meat if benefits were promoted with the average willingness to pay being 0.4 euros for disease resistance and 0.2 euros for Omega 3 content and reduced greenhouse gas.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at [email protected].

Author Bio

Joe Naiman, Writer

Joe Naiman has been writing for the Village News since 2001


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