GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
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Stakeholder input wanted: survey on research needs for assessing GMO impacts 

Shaping the Future of GMO Research

Stakeholder with interests in the risk and/or benefit assessment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are invited to take part in an online survey.

The aim of this survey is to identify which research needs should be prioritised, thereby contributing to the commissioning of research on the health, environment and economic impacts of GMOs.

The survey will close on 15th July 2015.

More information and access to the online survey

The setting-up of this website was financially supported by the European Union within the European Commission’s Sixth Framework Programme from 1 January 2005 until 28 February 2007.

The European Commission and other EU agencies are not responsible for the content.
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Eurobarometer 2006

GM Food: Europeans Still See More Risks than Benefits

Acceptance of biotechnology among Europeans is on the rise. According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, slightly more than half of European citizens are confident that applications of biotechnology will improve their quality of life – particularly when biotech is used for medicine and bio-based industrial applications. Regarding GM foods on the other hand, most Europeans remain sceptical. Unconvinced of the technology’s benefits, most respondents expressed moral objections and concerns about potential risks.

The recently released Eurobarometer survey is the sixth such study conducted since 1991. The latest edition is based on the responses of 25,000 citizens – approximately 1,000 individuals from each of the 25 EU Member States.

Support for GM foods (percent); EU Member States. The EU-wide average is 27 percent.

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Support for GM foods among the "decided" participants from selected EU Member States 1996-2005: Decided supporters include all participants who consider GM crops useful, morally acceptable, and feel they should be encouraged. Decided supporters may or may not agree the technology is risky. The decided non-supporters do not see GM food as useful, morally acceptable, or worthy of support. Decided supporters and decided non-supporters added up to approx. half of all participants. (Eurobarometer Survey Biotechnology 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005)

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Willingness of Europeans to buy GM food based on given circumstances: Most Europeans would buy GM food if they were considered healthier and used less pesticides. But authorisation from the EU and lower prices don't appear to be enough to get Europeans to choose GM.

Faith in biotechnology… but little appetite for GM food

Europeans are becoming increasingly optimistic about biotechnology, as has been the trend in the EU since 1999. Support is especially strong for medical applications of biotechnology, as long as there are clear benefits for human health. Many Europeans also support industrial applications of biotechnology, also known as “white” biotechnology. As examples the survey discussed ethanol fuel production, biodegradable plastics, and transgenic plants designed to produce pharmaceuticals. Even the controversial field of stem cell research is widely supported in Europe, provided it is tightly regulated.

According to the study, confidence in the European Union’s regulation of biotechnology is on the rise. Nonetheless, this doesn’t seem to have changed Europeans’ purchasing intentions – especially when it comes to Europe’s distaste for GM food. Even the EU’s recently overhauled regulatory framework for GMO authorisation and labelling has yet to make Europeans more accepting of food made from genetically engineered plants. In fact, only 27 percent of survey participants believe that the technology behind GM foods should be encouraged (see upper left). It seems that most consumers have a hard time seeing any clear benefits associated with genetically engineered crops. Meanwhile, the public is clearly concerned about potential risks to human health and the environment.

A Patchwork of Attitudes toward GM Food in the EU

The acceptance of genetically modified foods in Europe has been shifting significantly over the years. After a period of rising scepticism from 1996 to 1999, an increase in support was observed with the 2002 study. Since 2002, the support for GM foods has taken another downturn. For more and more people, the perceived risks of GM food outweigh the benefits.

Looking at a subset of participants considered “decided” on the issue, acceptance of GM foods across Europe stands at 42 percent (see middle left). Of the “decided” subset, supporters outnumber opponents in Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania. In contrast, supporters are few and far between especially in Austria, Greece, Hungary, Germany, and Latvia.

Possible Benefits of GM-Food: Health Before Wallet

The survey asked participants for the circumstances under which they would choose to buy GM food. The results showed that benefits for human health would be the forerunning reason to opt for GMOs. Reducing pesticide use appeared to be another important factor that would compel European consumers to choose a GM product. Most respondents, however, claimed they wouldn’t reach for GM products just to save a few euros. Authorisation by European authorities also wasn’t seen by most Europeans as a good enough reason to give GM foods a try (see lower left).

According to the researchers’ interpretations, certain individuals are inclined to reject GMOs across the board, regardless of the circumstances or potential benefits. As soon as a respondent entertained the possibility of accepting GMOs on certain conditions, most respondents found several acceptable circumstances that would whet their appetites for foods from GM plants.


An EU Research Project

What are the risks of growing GM crops?

What are the benefits?

Numerous studies have addressed the potential impacts of genetically modified (GM) plants. Yet the existing evidence on the effects of GM plants is often contradictory and the quality of scientific research varies widely.

Therefore, the GRACE project will establish new tools for assessing the quality of existing studies and will conduct comprehensive reviews to identify health, environmental and socio-economic impacts of GM plants.

More information


GMO Soybeans & Sustainability

Less soil erosion and fuel consumption: herbicide tolerant soybeans are promoting sustainable cultivation methods.


Glyphosate in European agriculture

Interview with a farmer

Glyphosate containing herbicides are not only used in fields with GM crops. They also allow conventional farmers to sow directly into stubble fields without ploughing. Glyphosate has replaced mechanical weed control in many crops and has had an important impact on agricultural practices and crop yields in Europe over the past few decades.

European Glyphosate Task Force

The issue of contradictory results of biosafety studies
Opposition decreasing or acceptance increasing?
An overview of European consumer polls on attitudes to GMOs
German ban on MON810 maize: will the courts now decide?
China plans to invest in GM crops R&D and consumer education
"Find the wisdom to allow GM technology to flourish"
Results of the GMO Compass snapshot poll
Genetic engineering of cut flowers
Preliminary studies raise hopes: Golden Rice works well!
GMO labelling of foodstuffs produced from animals – the discussion continues
GM Crops in Australia – will the moratoria end?
International study: consumers would buy GM products
GM plants no problem for the honey industry
Are GMOs Fuelling the Brazilian Future?
Latest Eurobarometer: Yes to Biotech – No to GM Food
Barley, Beer and Biotechnology
Farm Fresh Pharmaceuticals
Study: GM Soy Dangerous for Newborns?
Safety evaluation: GM peas in Australia with unexpected side-effects
The western corn rootworm: A pest coming to a maize field near you
Plants for the Future
Crops and Cereals
Gm Plants: Cultivation and Futur Projects
Rape Seed
Sugar beet
Crops and Cereals
GM Plants: The Big Four
Rape Seed
Global GM Crop Production in 2013
June 22, 2006 [nach oben springen]

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