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A look into transgenics

Genetically modified sugar cane seedlings in a USP laboratory

Léo Ramos Genetically modified sugar cane seedlings in a USP laboratoryLéo Ramos

A survey conducted by the Brazilian Public Opinion and Statistics Institute (Ibope), commissioned by the Biotechnology Information Council (CIB), shows that most Brazilians (80%) are somewhat aware that transgenic foods contain modified genes. However, not everyone recognizes how safe they are. Slightly under half (44%) of those interviewed agreed fully or partly with the statement that transgenics have undergone little testing, and 33% believe they are unhealthy. Two thousand people from all social classes, with no connection to the field of biotechnology, were interviewed. “People have little access to studies on the safety of transgenics compiled by entities such as the National Biosecurity Commission (CTNBio),” says Adriana Brondani, executive director of the CIB. Research shows that only 23% believe that science can help with food production, while 84% recognize that it contributes to curing diseases and 51% to the development of medicines. For physician and biochemist Walter Colli, former CTNBio chairman, the transgenics debate is complex and there is political and ideological opposition. “Businesses and researchers need to know how to answer people’s questions about science,” Colli recommends.