GM, or genetically modified, crops has attracted no shortage of controversy over the years. The method involves reconfiguring the genes in crop plants or adding new ones.
The benefits include creating food crops that are resistant to certain diseases and pests, and the improvement of the crop as a whole. However, opponents of GM crops cite environmental concerns, food safety, and issues around whether they address global food supply. GM foods vary by country, with some nations banning or restricting them, and others allowing varying degrees of regulation.
Populus research conducted on behalf of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council finds that there is widespread support amongst Millennials for the use of GM crops. The research shows that over two thirds (67%) of this age group also agree that these technologies can play a major role in making UK farming more sustainable for the future.
We surveyed 1,600 Millennials in the 18 – 30 year old age group. It appears the generation frequently accused of spending their savings on avocados or refusing to handle raw meat is most likely to be supportive of the latest agricultural techniques.
For example, the research shows that only 19% of the age group objected to the use of self-driving tractors on farms. 65% of young people support the use of drones in livestock farming and a similar percentage (63%) agree with the use of drones in arable farming to assess, monitor and spray crops.
Britons have been hesitant historically about the use of new technologies in farming and GM foods are currently imported but not grown in the UK. However, the research finds low opposition to the use of these techniques with approximately 20% of respondents objecting to the use of gene editing and GM (21% and 22%). This hints at support among younger age groups for GM technology in the UK in the future.
The results come as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) concludes its public consultation into how agricultural policy should look post Brexit.
Mark Buckingham, chairman of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council said:
“We are delighted to see young people embrace technology as part of the future of farming.
With Brexit on the horizon, techniques such as editing individual genes in crops to make them more resistant to diseases, are going to be essential to help British farmers and scientists lead the world in agri-science.”
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Populus surveyed 1666 nationally representative 18-30 year olds undertaken in four waves between 9 and 28 March 2018. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.populus.co.uk