Last updated on 4 March 2010
British attitudes to new food technologies
The Food Standards Agency has published new research looking at people’s attitudes to emerging food technologies, including genetically modified (GM) food, high pressure treatment, gas filled packaging and hypothetical foods that have health benefits.
The research found that people’s knowledge of, and attitudes to, food technologies vary considerably. Certain characteristics were found to be in common with people who are more concerned about food technologies, including being older, female, having a low income or generally having a high level of concern about food safety.
The more familiar people are with the names of food technologies the less concerned they are about them. For example, 31% of people were concerned about eating food cooked in a microwave, whereas 57% were concerned about eating food from a magnetron (another name for a microwave).
Compared with 1999, when the same questions were asked, fewer people now said they have a strong attitude to GM food, and there has been a gradual increase in public support for GM food (from 10% in 1999 to 19% in 2008).
These findings come from FSA-funded questions in the 2008 British Social Attitudes survey. The survey is designed to chart continuity and change in British social, economic, political and moral values and provides important data for many government departments.