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Germany: Glyphosate debate takes effect

by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)

Federal Institute for Risk Assessment BfR Logo
BfR Logo The BfR regularly conducts consumer surveys on health risks.

Three quarters of all Germans have heard of the topic "Glyphosate in food", according to the Consumer Monitor 2/2018 of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). Compared to the last survey conducted by the BfR in August 2017, the issue of glyphosate increased by 14 percentage points. Since 2014, the BfR has asked consumers every six months how they assess various health risks. These consumer monitors show the effects of public debates on specific topics and how certain assessments develop in the long term.

Glyphosate, aluminium and microplastics increasingly present

In the second half of 2017, glyphosate was not the only thing that increased significantly in the perception of consumers. Aluminium in food packaging" has also made a major leap forward with an increase of 15 percent. Microplastic also made further gains. Perceptions of pyrrolizidine alkaloids have dropped significantly: In August 2017, one in four said they had already heard of it, and in February 2018 only one in six respondents could still use the word. The term genome editing is also unknown to most consumers. Twelve percent of those questioned said they had heard of it. The topic of "genetically modified food", on the other hand, ranks second in popularity, only surpassed by salmonella.

What concerns consumers?

Besides the awareness of a topic, the BfR also inquires which topics are of particular concern to consumers. Antibiotic resistance leads the field, followed by pesticide residues and genetically modified food. Glyphosate has also increased significantly here. Its residues in food are a concern for 45 percent of those questioned. On the other hand, hardly any consumer is concerned about pyrrolizidine alkaloids, for example in tea. Here the rate dropped from 28 percent in February 2016 to just six percent two years later. Other risks, such as bacteria such as Campylobacter in food, or genome editing, however, hardly play a role.

Slight increase in consumer confidence

Such long-term comparisons also show that Germans' confidence in the safety of food, textiles, cosmetics and toys has increased slightly, as has their confidence in the government agencies that are responsible for this safety. Scrolling through the old consumer monitors also reveals the enormous thrust of glyphosate: In June 2015, only 16 percent of those questioned had heard of it. In February 2016 it was already 22 percent and 28 percent felt worried. A year later, 54 percent of people were aware of this and the concern rate was 32 percent. 76 percent and 45 percent respectively in February 2018.


Consumer Behaviour


Genetic Engineering


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