Speaking at the 2006 Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference in Melbourne, Craig Cormick, manager of public awareness for Biotechnology Australia, said that "consumer attitudes relating to GM foods are complex and studies that simply ask if people would or wouldn't eat GM foods don't do justice to the complexities of public attitudes".
Such findings put into perspective some objections to GM food. While some campaigners remain categorically against the whole concept of GM technology, some consumers might prove more receptive to certain types of food.
"For example, Australians claim they are more likely to eat packaged foods containing GM ingredients and GM cooking oils than they are likely to eat GM vegetables," said Cormick.
The research study
The study found that while 37 percent of people stated they were likely to eat any type of GM food (with 54 percent not likely to eat GM foods), when the question was asked in terms of the actual GM foods that are available, the responses changed.
Some 48 percent of respondents stated they were likely to eat packaged food containing a small amount of a GM ingredient such as GM soy or GM canola, and 48 percent stated they were likely to eat GM cooking oils (44 percent unlikely to eat either).
"Added to this is people's propensity to say one thing in food-related surveys but actually behave differently when shopping, which has been supported by focus group findings and other studies - indicating that the number of people in Australia who would eat the types of GM foods that are on our shelves is actually higher than indicated in this survey," he said.
Support for labelling
The study also found that 90 percent of consumers support the labelling of products to ensure consumer choice and 69 percent supported continued research into which types of GM crops are suitable for Australian conditions.
The study was conducted by ACNielson and involved a sample size of 1410 persons. - (Decision News Media, August 2006)