Prairie Research Associates Inc.
In our most recent Omnibus survey, we asked 475 Winnipeg residents and 330 non-Winnipeg residents for their opinion on food safety. We asked Manitobans what concerns, if any, they had about the safety of the food their family eats. A little fewer than half stated they had no concerns about food safety. Some 54% of respondents mentioned some concerns:
More than 1 in 10 (12%) mentioned being concerned about food processing and additives in food 10% said they are concerned about chemical spraying and chemical additives, and another 9% report being concerned about genetically modified foods (Figure 1).
Pesticides a leading source of concern for food safety
We asked all respondents to rate how they feel about some specific food concerns on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 means they are 'not at all concerned', and 5 means they are 'very concerned'. Pesticides on food and genetically modified food are the issues that concern Manitobans the most. Women and lower-income respondents are more likely to be concerned about genetically modified food, pesticides on food, and preservatives in food than are men and higher income respondents.
Respondents with less education are least likely to know what genetically modified foods are.
Respondents in households with income less than $20,000 are least likely to know what genetically modified foods are.
Concerns over genetically modified foods increase with age until the 65 and over age category, where concern decreases. This is because many respondents over 65 appear to not know about this new technology. This older age group has the highest percentage of respondents who said they have never heard of genetically modified foods.
Respondents were willing to pay up to 30¢ more per pound for regular tomatoes over genetically modified tomatoes
To test whether worry over genetically modified foods translates into different shopping behavior, we asked respondents whether they would buy "regular" or genetically modified tomatoes at various prices. We set the price of genetically modified tomatoes at $0.80/lb and varied the price of regular tomatoes randomly at $0.90, $1.00, or $1.10 per pound . The changes in price had very little effect on the respondent's decision to buy the regular or genetically modified tomatoes (Figure 3). From Figure 3, it is obvious that Manitobans prefer regular tomatoes and dislike the idea of buying genetically modified tomatoes( even if it means they would have to pay up to 30¢ more per pound for regular tomatoes.
Men are more inclined than women to buy a genetically modified tomato (36% of men compared to 25% of women) at all three prices.
Older respondents are less likely to buy genetically modified tomatoes than respondents in younger age categories at all three prices. This is despite the fact that many appear not to know about genetically modified foods. Some 42% of respondents in the 18 to 24 age category said they would buy genetically modified tomatoes compared to 20% in the 65 and over category.
Manitobans trust farmers for the most accurate information about food safety issues
We asked respondents to rate how much they trust specific organizations or people when it comes to getting accurate information on food safety. A rating of 5 means they trust the source completely and 1 means they do not trust the source at all. Manitobans trust farmers and University of Manitoba scientists the most when it comes to providing information about food safety issues. Conversely, Manitobans trust representatives from food companies the least when it comes to providing this information (Figure 4).
Men trust scientists from the U of M somewhat more than women (63% and 52% respectively).
The higher the household income, the more likely Manitobans are to trust scientists from the U of M and representatives from Health Canada. The older the respondent, the less likely he or she is to trust these two organizations.
Respondents with more education have more trust in scientists at the U of M, Health Canada officials, and US Food and Drug Administration representatives. For food company representatives the story is different(the higher the respondent's education, the less likely they are to trust these representatives.
NOTE: The questions reported here are sponsored solely by Prairie Research Associates Inc. and distributed as a public service. No public or private party has funded these questions.
For more information, contact Greg Mason at 1-888-877-6744 or (204) 987-2030
PRA interviewed Winnipeg residents over the age of 18 about their opinions on various food and public health issues.
The respondents were interviewed by telephone and selected by random digit dialing (which allows us to include those with unlisted or new numbers). This technique produces a random sample which includes the highest possible percentage of eligible respondents.
Survey Dates February 15 and February 25, 2000
A random sample may not represent the population. Non-response bias often produces too many members of one age group or too many from one gender. In these cases, we correct statistically for discrepancies in gender, age, and income to ensure the sample represents the population. For example, men tend to participate in interviews less than women, and younger respondents (18-24) are more difficult to find at home in the evening. We re-balance the data to conform more closely to what is generally known about the population using Statistics Canada and Revenue Canada information.
** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed for research and educational purposes only. **
Last Updated on 1/18/00
By Karen Lutz