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Green biotechnology: Are Germans changing their minds?
Gatersleben, 30th August 2013: The young generation in Germany is more positive-minded about genetic engineering in general and plant biotechnology in particular than the total population. In a representative survey of the market and opinion research institute Dimap, 18-29 year olds showed significantly more openness than other age groups towards all matters relating to green gene technology. Dimap explains in its final evaluation of the survey results (page11): "This largely positive attitude of the younger generation (18-29 years) might indicate a change of mind of the population in the future."
The initial question of Dimap was: "Genetic engineering is the selective intervention in the genome, for example in the preparation of medicines and in plant breeding. Do you think that, on balance, genetic engineering tends to benefit or to harm?" While a clear majority of the young generation affirms the benefits of genetic engineering (tends to benefit: 47%, tends to harm: 37%), the vote of the total population is reversed (36% more likely to affirm the benefits, 47% the harm). People with Abitur (A levels) or a university of applied sciences entrance certificate share the positive position of the young generation (tends to benefit: 47%, tends to harm: 41%).
Regarding the use of genetic engineering in agriculture, the vote of the young generation is again more positive than that of the average population. Indeed, initially only 33% endorse its use in agriculture, while 65% voted against. After pointing out that worldwide genetically modified crops are grown on more than 10% of all farmland, and the resulting question whether it should be optional for German farmers to grow genetically modified plants, 54% of the young people voted for a free choice of farmers (total population: 35%), while only 46% voted against (total population 62%).
On the question whether plant pests should be controlled by chemical pesticides or by genetically modified plants that can protect themselves against pests, 44% of the young generation advocates the genetic approach, while only 38% support chemical plant protection.
Of particular interest was the question if the respondents were aware of the fact that up to 80% of food gets in touch with genetic engineering during its production. 36% affirmed this question, 64% of them denied. On the further question of whether or not this fact disturbs them, 53% of the younger generation answered, that it does not disturb them. The total population answered: bothers me: 69%, does not bother me 28%.
The representative Dimap survey was commissioned by FORUM GRÜNE VERNUNFT (FGV). Considering the wholesale rejection of genetic engineering by 80% of the population, which is repeatedly claimed by opponents, FGV considers that a differentiated analysis of opinion was overdue. In an initial statement the Chairman of the FGV, former Minister Dr. Horst Rehberger, called the results of the Dimap survey encouraging. Nowadays young people, who studied genetic engineering in general and green gene technology in particular in biology classes in school much more than in former times - at that time there was not even this modern technology – took scare slogans of the opponents far less seriously. In this context it is remarkable that in the recent past in the UK, a former stronghold of scare-mongering against green biotechnology (“Frankenstein-Food”), a profound change of mind is taking place, and now both the media and the political majority press for the use of green gene technology.
The FORUM GRÜNE VERNUNFT was founded in 2009 with the aim to educate/clarify objectively and actively about green biotechnology. It is recognized by the tax authorities as a charity. Members of the association can only be natural persons, neither organizations nor companies. The FGV is bipartisan (some are members of the CDU, SPD, or FDP) and includes personalities from science, industry, trade unions and politics.
All Results of the survey can be found at www.gruenevernunft.de.
-> dimap ”Gentechnik in der Landwirtschaft” - KW 26/2013
Dr. Horst Rehberger
OT Gatersleben, Am Schwabeplan 1b , 06466 Stadt Seeland
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.grunevernunft.de