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Brussels, 28 November 2012 -- 55% of Italians deem it useful to continue GMO research, while 52% would consider buying biotech products in the future. Both figures come from a survey conducted by ISPO on behalf of Futuragra, the farmers’ association that is campaigning for the introduction of biotechnologies in Italy. Information, scientific research and intention to buy are the key topics of the survey presented yesterday in Rome by Prof. Renato Mannheimer (ISPO Ricerche) and Silvano Dalla Libera (Vice President of Futuragra).

Respondents in favour of GMO research (slides 27 and 28) and possible buyers (slides 31 and 32)
55% of Italians favour continuing GMO research, while 62% think that Italian scientists should have the same rights to do research on an equal footing with their peers from other countries. 49% disagree with the ban on experimentation in Italy. Graduates and people in the 35 to 44age bracket are the keenest supporters of scientific research.

52% of Italians would consider buying GMO food under certain conditions, The main driver (48%) concerns the potential health benefits, followed by enhanced environmental sustainability (37%) and lower price than an equivalent product (27% of the sample).One quarter of the population would not buy GMOs under any conditions.

“The survey exposes the public’s lack of knowledge about GMOs in Italy. GMOs are often in the limelight of ideological communication in debates where scientific research is underrepresented, said Prof. Mannheimer. Not surprisingly, therefore, there is a plea to restore the role of science and research in this context. The propensity to buy shown by over half the population testifies to the consumers’ high level of awareness; they are less biased than we were led to believe. These data unfold a new scenario in the debate and demonstrate an openness on the part of Italians, which cannot be disregarded in the future.”

GMO Awareness (slides 3, 6, 7, 8, 9)
33% of respondents state that they have never heard of GMOs before; half of them (50%) are over 64 years old, and mostly reside in the South and the islands (41%). Despite the fact that 67% state that they know about GMOs, only 7% really knows what they really are. An even slimmer proportion (5%) knows what the acronym (OGM in Italian) stands for, or understand that there are genes in every plant, and not just in biotech crops. Only half of the respondents are clear as to the meaning of the acronym (GMO, or Genetically Modified Organism): less than one in two can give the meaning, while 48% has no idea.

“We’re trying to understand where all the skepticism against GMOs comes from, says SilvanoDallaLibera, Vice PresidentofFuturagra. This survey shows very clearly that, if on one hand people are not informed because of the one-sidedness of the debate, on the other hand there is a strong demand for education that cannot remain unmet. Italy must resume experimentation and apply the EU directives that make it already possible to grow biotech crops in this country.”

An unrealistic public debate where opponents dominate(slides 11, 12, 13, 23, 24, 25)
If one considers average exposure to information in the media, anti-GMO outweigh pro-GMO data by 8%, but that ratio increases to 10% in the group of respondents who had only heard about GMOs.

“It is not surprising that the survey shows that 42% of Italians think that GMO crops are grown in Italy today, commented DallaLibera, and that 63% do not know or think that the products they buy do not contain some proportion of GMOs. Similarly, only 1 Italian out of 5 knows that in Italian PDO farms, GMOs are permitted in livestock feed.This is because of the anti-biotech propaganda: on one hand, they make people believe that GMOs are grown here, on the other hand, they will not admit that biotech raw materials have been used in food and have been present in the food chain for years, without any ill effects on human health, while providing cost benefits to both consumers and producers.”

Only 12% of the population has proactively sought information on GMOs, while 55% has received it passively. While for the “proactive” group the Internet is the most common source (46%), for “passive” recipients television is by far the most frequently referred-to source (70% of total respondents).Overall, 51% of Italians have not received any information on GMOs, although out of the 25% with a high level of exposure, a high proportion of respondents are aged 18 to 34 (25%) and live in Northeastern Italy (30%).

Farmer Awareness (Slides 29 and 30)
Most of the population (52%) agrees that if it is legal to sell GMO products, it should also be legal to grow them. At the same time, Italians seem to be aware of the low competitivity of Italian farmers. To 56% of the respondents, it is unfair to allow foreign growers to cultivate GMO crops and then sell them in Italy whileItalian farmers are prohibited from doing the same. “These answers make us particularly confident for the future, continuesDallaLibera. Despite the one-sided public debate, Italians feel that agriculture is a primary production sector.”

Survey Data
Survey carried out by ISPO Ricerche srl/3G Deal & Research srl for Futuragra. –Sample: Representative of the Italian 18+ population – Geographical scope: national - Cases: 800 - Method: CATI  - Rejections/Substitutions: 1,077 - Date of survey: 7th-8th November 2012 –Approximation Margin: 3.5%

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