A postal survey (n = 1682, margin of error 3%) used a hypothetical milk product with medical benefits produced by genetically engineered (GE) cows as a stimulus to examine New Zealanders` support and attitudes towards GE for food and medicine. Beliefs about proposed benefits of GE, ethical issues associated with GE, and ethical perceptions about the status and treatment of cows were canvassed. Ten times as many respondents totally opposed GE food as totally supported it. Medical applications (15.6%) received significantly more total support than GE food production (3.4%). A majority of respondents were prepared to support GE under some circumstances (medicine 61.8%, food 51.7%) - implying their need for case-by-case analysis. Respondents disagreed GE will: cure the world`s major diseases, solve the world`s food problems, improve the quality of animal lives, be environmentally benign, or that the spread of GE organisms can be controlled. GE did not fit with respondents’ cultural and spiritual beliefs or basic principles. Although agreeing the instrumental use of cows by humans was acceptable, respondents strongly disagreed genetic modification of cows for human benefit was acceptable. Consistent significant differences were found between males and females on all the above issues.

BH, Small, JA Peddersen, JA Wilson, and TG Parminter

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 62, Palmerston North, 179-182, 2002
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