‘Steadily increasing’ GMO acceptance in Europe fuels efforts to revise biotech restrictions

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Since 1996 till 2018, the global area cultivated with GM crops has increased 113-fold, making biotech crops one of the fastest adopted crop technology in the past decades. In the European Union, only two countries still cultivate one available transgenic crop event on minor hectarage. Moreover, the number of notifications for confined field trials has dramatically dropped in the last decade. All these are happening while the EU legislation on GM crops has come under severe criticism.

The percentage of EU citizens concerned about the presence of GMOs in the environment has decreased from 30% (in 2002) to 19% (in 2011), while the level of concern about the use of GM ingredients in food or drinks has decreased from 63% (in 2005) to 27% (in 2019). The steadily increasing acceptance of the EU citizens of GMOs in the environment and food, as it was recorded by Eurobarometers, should additionally ease the way and support a positive change of the legal framework that regulates the GM crops’ testing and commercial cultivation in the EU.

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In contrast with the supportive opinions of the EU experts toward the use of GMOs, the attitude of the majority of the European citizens has long been suggested to remain a reluctant and skeptical one. In [the] EU, citizens’ views of a variety of topics are regularly surveyed by the Eurobarometer studies commissioned by the European Commission to monitor the evolution of public opinion over several years, using uniform questionnaires and large numbers of interviews to obtain representative data.

A different series of special Eurobarometers have recorded the evolution of the concerns expressed regarding the use of GMOs for farming or as food ingredients, and the percentage of EU citizens concerned about the use of GMOs has substantially decreased over the last two decades. This officially recorded trend supports, and also argues for, an immediate change of the present, not-fit-for the purpose, GMO regulatory framework to meet EU citizens’ expected benefits which GM crops could offer.

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