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Crop Biotech Update

Study Documents Ghana's Public Perception Towards GM Food, Labeling

March 18, 2020

A survey study was conducted in Ghana to understand the public's attitude towards genetically modified (GM) food and labeling among its citizens. Interestingly, results showed a lack of knowledge on GM technology, yet a high demand for food product labeling.

The study was co-authored by the CSIR-Science and Technology Policy Research Institute and the Food and Drugs Authority both in Ghana. It involved interviews using a structured survey to 620 adult customers in supermarkets over a four-month period. The questions were designed to gather the respondents' information on demographics, their knowledge of GM food products, and their purchasing behavior. According to the authors, their objective was to garner a view of the public's understanding of the controversial GM technology and labeling to help decision-makers formulate the right policies when it comes to the commercialization of developed GM crops intended for Ghana's food supply.

The results showed that the current level of GM knowledge is low, and parallel to the fact that education and awareness about GM technology are also weak and slow. This suggests that the public makes their decisions about GM technology based on misinformation. They are therefore concluding that the attitude of people towards GM food labeling is mainly based on non-specific information and misinterpretation of scientific data due to lack of scientific facts in the system. The authors said that this can cause the public to likely ask for labels for GM-derived foods, though in reality, only a few of them take the time to read food labels.

The authors concluded that the limited knowledge on GM technology explains why the public seems to reject biotechnology yet calls for food product labeling, though labeling itself has become a choice variable rather than a safety measure in Ghana's case. They also recommended that extensive education and creating awareness using well-formulated communication campaigns for different stakeholders are key to changing the public's attitude towards GM technology.

The paper was made free for download by the authors in Biotechnology Journal International.

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