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Abstract

Biotechnology stands to be a defining technology in the future of food and agriculture. Proponents argue that science and industry are poised to bring consumers a wide variety of products that have potential for meeting basic food needs, as well as delivering a wide-range of health, environmental and economic benefits. Opponents counter that the potential exists for unintended consequences, ranging from ecological disruption to adverse human health implications, and that these risks are not fully understood. Fundamental questions exist, however, regarding the general public's position on food products derived with the use of biotechnology. To address these questions, the Food Policy Institute addressed consumers using computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI) system, a public phone survey of a sample selection of 1203 U.S. residents was administered between March and April 2001. The questionnaire was developed to address perceived gaps in the current literature on American consumer awareness, acceptance, and perceptions of food biotechnology and to serve as the basis for a set of longitudinal studies that will be able to track public opinion over time.

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