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A third of Brits think insects will form part of future UK diet as food production challenges worsen

  • 32% of British adults believe the consumption of insects will likely become more commonplace, in the wake of challenges in food production
  • Nearly three quarters (72%) support increased emphasis on new technology and innovation – including new plant breeding techniques such as gene editing – as a means of tackling issues such as crop shortages
  • Farmers and scientists are most trusted by the public to ensure the UK is well prepared to tackle challenges in food production.

Monday 2nd September – Almost a third of British adults (32%) believe an increase in insect consumption is likely in the UK in the future due to food production challenges, according to new research published by YouGov.

UK farmers are facing several unprecedented challenges in food production, such as climate change, and growing pressure from pests and plant diseases. This is coupled with an increasing need to boost productivity and compete with imported products, while at the same time becoming more sustainable and reducing overall environmental impact.

In this context, a YouGov survey of more than 2,000 people, carried out for the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (abc), found many people believe a drastic change in UK diets is likely.

There is also widespread support for innovative technologies, which could make a huge difference to the farming community and help to increase crop diversity and security. Nearly three quarters (72%) support the use of new technologies and innovation – such as new plant breeding techniques to increase crop diversity and security – to help farmers tackle these challenges, while 82% believe there will be an increased emphasis on new technology and innovation in food production and farming in the future for example gene editing, which can help make crops more nutritious, pest and disease resistant. In comparison, nearly 2 in 5 (37%) are supportive of changes, such as increased consumption of insects, occurring in the next 10 years with this support rising to 48% within the 18-24 year old age group.

There was also strong agreement amongst those surveyed that farmers and scientists are the most trusted groups to help the UK to deal with food production challenges, trusted by 76% and 75% of respondents respectively. UK politicians were the least trusted group to tackle these issues, with only 16% of respondents believing politicians are well prepared. Nearly half (49%) would trust UK supermarkets to ensure that the UK is well prepared in the event of any future food production challenges.

abc is calling on the Government to use the UK’s exit from the EU as an opportunity to take advantage of ground-breaking technologies that have previously been blocked by political intervention at an EU level. The use of gene editing and GM technology in the UK post Brexit could help UK farming flourish, whilst maintaining the highest levels of consumer safety and environmental protection.

Commenting on the survey, Mark Buckingham, Chair of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council said: ‘We are delighted to see UK consumers embrace innovation and new technologies as the future of farming. Using cutting edge technology and growing techniques will enable the UK to deal with the serious challenges of keeping our farmers competitive, maintaining a safe, affordable food supply, and protecting our natural environment. With Brexit on the horizon, techniques such as editing individual genes in crops to make them more resistant to diseases, offer a fantastic opportunity to help British farmers lead the world in agri-science.’