US consumers fussy about price, not GMs

30 Nov, 2005 08:45 PM
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WHAT consumers say about GM foods is often different to what they think when buying them, according to a leading expert on consumer GM attitudes.

North Dakota State University agricultural economics professor Bill Wilson provided delegates at the AusBiotech 2005 conference in Perth last week with an insight into US consumer trends.

"Consumers simply do not want to pay more for GM-free foods," Dr Wilson said.

"From the consumer perspective, US people are concerned about food-borne diseases and food safety.

"They are less concerned about the biotech content of the product."

Dr Wilson said US consumers were not interested in the US federal food safety regulator, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), labelling food as non-GM or GM.

"There is a high degree of trust in the FDA's decision-making ability," he said.

"About 70-80pc of food ingredients in the US have some GM content."

Dr Wilson said state moratoria were not as good as a federal regulatory system for GM crops.

"There have been attempts to create state moratoria for GM wheat in the US but they have failed because the proposed moratoria could not provide as far reaching regulation as the federal legal systems already in place," he said.

"If you move away from federal regulation, you may have state politicians making decisions on GM without the necessary scientific knowledge to make such decisions."

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