Survey results show Westminster government has no public mandate to deregulate gene editing
Some 73% of Welsh voters do not support any weakening of GM regulations, according to a survey released by Unchecked UK.
The survey included the following question: “Now that the UK has left the European Union, some organisations are calling on the UK government to remove or alter laws that were originally required by the EU. In your opinion, what should happen to each of the following types of regulation?"
One of the types of regulation listed was "Rules which restrict the genetic engineering of food".
The results showed that a total of 73% of respondents wanted to keep the rules the same (31%) or strengthen them (42%). Only 9% wanted to remove or weaken them, with 19% opting for "don't know".
The survey found that in general, "The majority of Welsh voters identify most closely with statements which portray regulations in a positive light, rather than those which convey the views often expressed by pro-deregulation advocates."
The study was conducted by YouGov (commissioned by Unchecked) and represents the views of 1090 people aged 16+.
The survey results send a strong message to the Westminster government that its plan to exempt gene editing from the GMO regulations is not supported by a majority of the public in Wales.
It also shows that DEFRA's biased promotional material about the supposed benefits of gene editing failed to impress Welsh citizens.
Opposition to GM foods is not confined to Wales. Surveys show that consumers across the rest of the UK do not want to grow, buy or eat genetically engineered foods. For example, a 2020 survey by Food Standards Scotland found that, next to chlorinated chicken, genetically engineered foods are a top issue of concern for 57% of consumers. A 2020 study of British social attitudes by NatCen Social Research, which focused on Brexit-related issues, found that 59% wish to maintain the ban on genetically engineered crops. And a 2021 UK-based survey by NatCen Social Research found that 64% of those who took part were opposed to the cultivation of genetically engineered foods.
The recent DEFRA consultation is on plans for deregulation in England only, but Internal Market rules would likely make it very difficult for Wales to prevent unregulated English GMOs from circulating freely in Wales.