OTTAWA — Even though much of the food we eat is genetically-modified (GM) and North American farmers are free to use genetically-modified corn and soybean seeds, the issue is always controversial. It seems we all know someone slagging GM foods on Facebook and others who eat GM foods but are dead set against them.
Farmers Forum wanted to find out what young people think and sent reporter Connor Lynch to the University of Ottawa campus. He polled 40 students — 20 science students and 20 social science students. The results suggest that GM foods are losing the battle for hearts and minds with the next non-farming generation.
A biochemistry student said that in some ways the issue is moot “because we already eat them all the time. Most hybrids are GMOs (genetically-modifed organisms).”
True. But the majority of students polled believe we should not be eating them. Even with efforts to include the scientifically literate, 23 out of 40 (58 %) students opposed GM food.
Even some GM foods supporters did so with caveats, including concerns about lack of knowledge of long-term effects. One political science student supports GM food only in developing countries, saying the economic benefit outweighs the health risk.
Here are the poll results:
• 34 out of 40 students (85 %) say they know what GM foods are.
• 23 out of 40 students (58 %) believe we should not be eating GM foods.
• 16 of the 34 students (47 %) who say they know what GM foods are believe we should be eating them.
Faculty of science students:
• 16 out of 20 (75 %) know what GM foods are.
• 10 out of 20 (50 %) believe we should not be eating them.
Faculty of social sciences students:
• 18 out of 20 (90 %) know what GM foods are.
• 13 out of 20 (65 %) believe we should not be eating them.
The most current national survey that Farmers Forum found was a 2003 University of Calgary study which stated that 52 per cent of Canadians approve of GM foods on grocery store shelves.