Consumers don't trust supermarkets on GM food, poll finds

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A day after Tesco dropped its promise not to use GM feed, an exclusive poll for The Grocer reveals nearly three quarters of consumers do not trust supermarkets to tell the truth about the use of technology to genetically modify food.

The poll of more than 1,000 people, conducted by Leatherhead Food Research, found less than 4% of respondents trusted retailers on the issue, with more than 72% saying they did not trust retailers to tell the truth, and the remainder unsure.

The results also show more than 80% of customers are either unsure or negative in their attitude to the use of GM technology in food, while over 50% believed the main impact of GM foods was to provide more financial gain for supermarkets.

There is also bad news for the government in the poll, with just 13% saying they trusted ministers to tell the truth about GM, while more than 60% said they did not.

Tesco defended its move on GM feed, which follows the lead of Asda and Morrisons, on the grounds that it did not want to make a promise on GM it could no longer keep.

A Tesco spokeswoman said: “We want to be clear with customers about food and that’s why we’ve recently removed the GM-free guarantee for poultry and eggs, a decision that we have explained clearly on our Food News website.

“We could not continue with a promise we cannot be sure it is possible to keep and we want to be upfront about the changes we are making. We also wanted to reassure our customers that this will not have any impact on the safety and quality of the food or its taste. As a food retailer, nothing is more important to us than the safety of the food we sell.”

Today, The Co-operative Group said it could no longer guarantee its own-brand chicken and turkey had been fed a non-GM diet, citing the difficulty in sourcing non-GM feed.

Readers' comments (5)

  • To make any sense of this report we need details: just what were the questions and exactly how were they answered? There have been far too many polls over the years asking leading questions ("Would you eat 'Frankenstein' food?") and coming up with the expected result. Before we make up our minds about this report, let us see in this case that the questions were not leading. The reported finding that 80% of customers are either unsure or negative in their attitude to the use of GM technology in food does not correspond to their responses in other surveys. Something is odd. We need to see those questions and answers.

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  • They're just not trying, are they? There's not just 'lots of coffee in Brazil', there's lots of non-GM soya there too.

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  • The true test of their trustworthiness will be if they label the food affected. After all they warn us about traces of nuts however vanishingly small. The issue is not so much about 'Frankenstein' food (yet to be substantiated) but whether GM is the technology of the future, or more old technology which environmentally damaging. Science has moved on. See http://www.forumforthefuture.org/greenfutures/articles/gm-time-more-nuanced-debate

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  • The reason I don't trust these companies is that they don't care about my safety they care about profit.

    They'd still be feeding us BSE riddled beef if it was left to them.

    Don't get me started.

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  • If anyone needs a reminder of what GM can to to an economy, look to the US where an experimental field of wheat 'escaped' into adjacent crops and has now spread. The result? Japan and South Korea have immediately imposed a total embargo on US wheat. This will no doubt spread, and will destroy the price of US wheat. What of the poor farmers who are totally innocent of this tampering? No doubt the US will be frantically trying to find a replacement market. I suspect that a lot of the contaminated wheat will finish up in Europe!

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