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  • Argentinean consumers and farmers split on GM safety

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[BUENOS AIRES] Forty per cent of consumers in Argentina — the world's second largest producer of genetically modified (GM) crops — think that eating such food could damage human health, according to a new survey.

In contrast, the same survey — carried out by the Argentinean Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fishing and Food — found that three quarters of the country's farmers believe that GM products are harmless to health.

Ninety per cent of farmers said that they had heard of GM organisms. But this was true of only 64 per cent of consumers, even though Argentina grows 23 per cent of the world's GM crops, making it the second largest producer after the United States.

The poll forms part of an evaluation of biosafety issues funded by the UN Environmental Programme's Global Environmental Facility (UNEP-GEF). It involved interviewing more than 500 shoppers at large supermarkets in Buenos Aires, and more than 800 individuals at agricultural fairs.

Both groups agreed that public institutions should do more to inform Argentineans about GM organisms, whose use was first authorised in the country in 1991.

Argentina's public institutions have not run any information campaigns for farmers and consumers. The only organisations which have done so are the Argentinean Seed Association, which represents the seed industry, and the environmental organisation Greenpeace.
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