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Chile, Mexico attitudes toward GM foods.

Currently, commercially marketed genetically modified seeds are sold on a large scale with one specific capability. The various crops usually carry a "trait" that makes the crop more resistant to pests, and therefore the crop requires fewer pesticides to grow.

The benefit to farmers is said to be lower production costs. The benefit to consumers is advertised as lower prices.

There is a worldwide controversy about genetically modified crops that slows their market acceptance. In the simplest of terms, people in favor of genetically modified crops (called either GM crops or GMO crops) say lower prices along the production-consumption chain justify their use.

People against GM crops say that they haven't been sufficiently tested to insure that dangerous modifications are not being made to the food chain that could harm humans in the future.

In late November 2004, the University of Washington's IMPACT Center released preliminary results of a consumer survey done in Mexico, Chile, and India focusing on attitudes toward GM crops. The survey was conducted at grocery stores and in markets, and as well in both poor and wealthy areas.

The initial results from the two Latin American countries were different from the results from India.

In Chile, 35 percent of respondents said there was a high level of risk associated with biotechnology. In Mexico, 19 percent of respondents said there was a high level of risk.

But in India, only 3 percent of respondents associated a high level of risk with biotechnology.

The survey also asked respondents if they actually knew what the risks were that were commonly ascribed to biotechnology.

In Chile, 25 percent of respondents said they didn't know what the risks were, and 35 percent of Mexicans said they didn't know either.

In India, 70 percent of respondents couldn't say what the actual risks were.

One of the key areas the survey explored was a willingness to buy GM foods. Here, the variation between the more developed Chile and Mexico and the less developed India were less pronounced.

In Chile and Mexico, 70 percent of respondents said they were willing to buy GM food if it had more vitamins or other nutrients, or used less pesticides.

Total Indian consumers who said they would buy GM foods was 88 percent.

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Title Annotation:genetically modified
Publication:Market Latin America
Geographic Code:1MEX
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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