UK consumers give their views on precision bred food
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) have published the first phase of a ‘Survey of public attitudes towards precision breeding’ report, as part of wider efforts to increase their evidence base in the field of genetic technologies.
The first part of the two-phase social research project sought feedback from members of the public across the UK on their awareness and attitudes towards precision bred food, and what information about precision bred food is important to them. The second phase will be carried out by the FSA in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (due early 2023) and will help the agency to understand what is informing peoples’ views and develop a deeper understanding of their needs. FSS will be carrying out further research in Scotland.
The interim findings from phase one highlight low awareness of precision breeding (75% of participants have not heard of it) and a strong appetite to know more about the new technology and its use in food and animal feed production.
While the data reveals a general openness to trying precision bred foods across the UK, with more people anticipating positive than negative impacts from its use, there are large proportions of people taking a neutral stance or indicating they do not know enough to answer the survey questions.
The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill, which applies to England only, is currently going through Parliament. Should this Bill become law, the FSA will be responsible for introducing a separate regulatory framework for precision bred food and feed. This framework will ensure that any food and feed developed using precision breeding will only enter the food supply chain if they are judged to present no risk to health, do not mislead consumers, and do not have lower nutritional value than their traditionally bred counterparts. This consumer research project will feed into the design of a regulatory framework and any future engagement with consumers on precision breeding.
There are currently no precision bred foods authorised for sale in the UK, although some are available elsewhere in the world, and precision breeding is a rapidly growing technology within the global food system.
For more information on precision breeding, watch the ‘FSA Explains Precision Breeding’ video, and visit our dedicated webpage.
The full consumer research project is available on our research pages.