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Friday, June 14, 2024
EditorialsUp Front 03/04

Up Front 03/04

Leaked documents are standard fare these days and often serve as a method of deflating public reaction to government initiatives or even to test the strength of opinion on certain issues. The recent ‘leak’ regarding the use of GM products came at the same time as a press release from a team of independent academic researchers studying the value of last summer’s Government-sponsored GM Nation? public debate. The core evaluation team comprised researchers from Cardiff University, the University of East Anglia and the Institute of Food Research. The evaluation team also unveiled a major (UEA/MORI) survey of British public opinion on GM food and crops, conducted immediately after the end of the GM Nation? debate. Key findings suggested that overall opposition to GM food was found to be 36% against, while 13% supported and about two in five (39%) neither supported nor opposed GM food. A large majority (85%) thought that we don’t know enough about the potential long-term effects of GM food on our health and there were very high levels of agreement (79%) that organisations separate from government are needed to regulate GM food. However the report also found that whilst being both innovative and an important experiment in public engagement, the debate failed to engage the uncommitted public (one of its key objectives). It remains to be seen whether the government listens to the ‘uncommitted public’ or those that did engage in the debate.

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