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More than 70% of Brazilians would consume transgenic wheat -survey

By Roberto Samora

SAO PAULO, May 24 (Reuters) - More than 70% of consumers in Brazil would not have any restrictions related to consumption of transgenic wheat, according to a survey seen by Reuters that is changing companies' perception about whether to sell GMO wheat in Brazil.

The survey breaks a paradigm in Brazil under which consumers in the South American country would be against consuming genetically modified (GMO) wheat after its recent approval in Argentina.

Brazil is a net importer of wheat, and most of it comes from its southern neighbor.

Last year, Brazil became the first country to allow imports of flour made with GMO wheat from Argentina, though immediate shipments were seen as unlikely due to opposition from local millers.

The survey, conducted in December by Indexsa, interviewed 3,135 people in 12 state capitals.

Abimapi, an association representing biscuit, pasta, bread and cake makers, was initially against the adoption of transgenic wheat here, but changed its stance after the survey, which it commissioned.

"The survey showed that more than 70% of people consume genetically modified foods or will consume them without any problem," Abimapi's chief executive, Claudio Zanao, told Reuters. "So the association's position has changed, we are not going to be against consumers."

Much of the soy and corn produced in Brazil and in other major suppliers, such as the United States, is transgenic. But there has always been greater scrutiny of wheat, which is consumed directly by people while the others are commonly used as animal feed.

Some 1,790 people surveyed said they knew what transgenic food is and, of these, 75.5% said they were aware that they have consumed genetically altered products in the past.

Some 1,345 people said they were not aware of GMO foods. But of these, 71.4% said they would consume transgenic foodstuff after receiving adequate product information. (Reporting by Roberto Samora Writing by Ana Mano Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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