Half of the population in Finland completely disapproves meat raised with genetically modified (GM) feed, according to a survey commissioned by the Finnish news source Helsingin Sanomat.
More than 90% feel that meat raised with such feed should have a label that informs the consumer of its use.
Most pork sold in Finland will soon be raised with the help of genetically modified feed, as Finland ‘s largest meat packers have announced that they will be introducing GM soybean feed, which is cheaper than the traditional kind.
However, the survey shows that barely over one quarter of Finns approve of the use of GM feed in agriculture.
Taking the most positive attitudes are men under the age of 25. Awareness of GM food grows with age. Less than 20% of the respondents over the age of 65 approve of the use of GM grain in animal feed.
GM is cheaper
The Meat Board of the Finnish Food and Drink Industries’ Federation calculates that the price of pork chop would increase by less than 1% – or about 8 cents a kilogramme – if producers were to stick to non-GM feed.
However, the association notes that the difference will grow, as the price of traditional soy feed rises faster than that of the GM variety. In the future it might be difficult to find soybeans whose genes have not been manipulated in some way.
Willing to pay
The poll suggests that in spite of the price difference, there will still be a market for meat produced in the traditional manner, as 72% say that they are willing to pay at least a little bit more for meat if they can be sure that no GM feed has been used in raising it.
One in six says that they would be willing to pay significantly more for GM-free meat. Women were less concerned about price considerations than men. The most negative view of the prospect of more expensive meat are young respondents, and those living in the north of Finland.
Income levels did not appear to play a role in how much more a person was willing to pay for non-GM pork.
Meat Board chairman Pasi Lähdetie is not worried by the results of the poll. He says that views expressed by people in surveys are not always reflected in consumer habits.
“We have experiences on similar surveys concerning organic meat. Compared with the positive opinions, consumption of organic meat has been very low”, Lähdetie points out.