GM crops: Public fears over 'Frankenstein food' may be easing, Independent poll reveals

But pressure groups warn they will maintain their strong opposition

Political Editor

More people support rather than oppose the growing of genetically modified crops and more of them are prepared to buy and eat GM foods than not, according to a survey for The Independent.

As the Government launches a drive to persuade people to eat more GM foods, the ComRes poll suggests that public fears about so-called "Frankenstein food" may be easing.  Asked if they would support the growing of GM crops in the UK,  47 per cent agreed, while 42 per cent disagreed and 11 per cent replied don't know.  Men (57 per cent) were more likely than women (38 per cent) to support the idea.

Liberal Democrat supporters (59 per cent) were more likely to back the growing of GM crops than people who intend to vote for Labour (52 per cent), the Conservatives (50 per cent) or the UK Independence Party (46 per cent).

The survey of 1,000 people found that 49 per cent agreed that they would have no problem buying or eating GM foods if they were sold in the UK, while 42 per cent disagreed with this statement and 9 per cent were don't knows.

Again, men (59 per cent) were more likely to agree than women (39 per cent).  People aged 18-24 (60 per cent) were more likely to say they would buy and eat GM produce than other age groups. Lib Dem supporters (57 per cent) were more favourably disposed to buying and eating it than those of other parties.

Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, called last month for the UK to lead a farming revolution in Europe, arguing that GM crops would cut fertiliser and chemical use while feeding the world's poorest countries. 

Public opposition in the UK appears to have reduced since the Blair Government held a consultation exercise, including 650 public meetings, in 2003. Of  the 37,000 people who responded to questionnaires, a  majority (54 per cent) said they never wanted to see GM crops grown in Britain; 18 per cent said they would find the crops acceptable only if there were no risk of cross-contamination; 13 per cent  wanted to see more research; only 8 per cent they were happy to eat GM food and  only 2 per cent said the crops were acceptable in any circumstances. The public hostility stalled plans by Tony Blair to push the technology.

Although the ComRes findings will be welcomed by ministers, pressure groups warned tonight that they would maintain their strong opposition to GM crops.

Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association, said: "These results are completely out of line with all recent polls of public opinion about GM. When asked, 61 per cent of UK farmers, who should know more about the risks of GM farming and food, said they would be willing to grow GM crops if they were available, which they are not. However, only an extraordinarily low 15 per cent would be willing to eat GM food, and far more, 24 per cent would eat organic food in preference."

Pete Riley of GM Freeze said: "These results do not follow the trends found by recent UK polls and are very different those from mainland Europe, where opposition to GM food and crops is very high."

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week