Survey: consumers and gene-edited foods

Many consumers view gene editing in a negative light despite not understanding the technology, according to a recent survey.

David Fikes is the executive director of the FMI Foundation.

“Most consumers if you ask them if they want GMO in their diet, they will tell you no,” he says. “So, there is still this negative aura around GMO and gene editing is getting painted with that same brush and I think it’s because we’ve not given adequate education and not told consumers why we’re doing this.”

Surveyed consumers showed a lower willingness to pay for gene-edited foods when given alternatives such as organic, conventionally produced, non-GMO, and GMO products.

But, Fikes says consumers showed more of a willingness to pay for gene-edited foods when they were informed about the benefits of the technology.

“Predominately, benefits to the environment won the day—they understood that,” he says. “Also, in regard to the nutritional value, for example, the reason why the tomato had been gene edited was to enhance its nutritional yield—that resonated with consumers.”

The report says that although gene-editing is likely to face challenges, the challenges can be mitigated by providing information about the technology.

The survey of more than 4,000 consumers was completed by FMI Foundation, Michigan State University, American Seed Trade Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, and Farm Foundation.

The FMI Foundation prioritized gene editing to be addressed by its Unified Voice Protocol. This framework, established a few years ago, was created to establish an environment of trust in the food and consumer goods industries.

Audio: David Fikes

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