Nearly three-quarters of the UK public would support the use of modern food production technologies including gene editing, new research has shown.
According to a survey of more than 2,000 people, carried out by YouGov on behalf of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), 72 per cent of British adults want issues such as crop shortages to be tackled with an increased emphasis on new plant breeding techniques.
But the survey also found shoppers were divided on the subject of genetically modified food.
While 43 per cent of respondents said they would support the idea of UK farmers growing GM crops for domestic consumption over the next decade, 42 per cent were not supportive, with 15 per cent unsure.
Mark Buckingham, chair of the ABC, said: “We are very pleased with the support for innovation and technology which this research highlights.
“However, despite decades of successful use of GM traits and their popularity with farmers around the world, some UK consumers still see controversy in the name GM.
“This has had a direct impact on British jobs, with private sector research and development expenditure in the sector falling in the last 20 years from about £50 million per year to just £1.25 million today.
“ABC remains optimistic about the long-term. We continue to highlight the safe and beneficial track record of crops developed with GM techniques, including the support which imports of products like soy provide to the UK livestock sector and the reduced environmental impact of using these tools where available.”
Another finding from the survey showed almost half – 47 per cent – of the public believe the UK only produces 30-40 per cent of its own food.
Just 10 per cent of adults recognised the UK is around 60 per cent self-sufficient, with the latest data putting the precise figure at 61 per cent.
Worryingly, 62 per cent of those surveyed also believed the UK would become more reliant on imported food at some point in future, while 22 per cent did not believe this was likely.