Poll seems to manipulate public opinion

While public opinion pollsters are not always correct in their polling and analyses, one would at least like to think that the numbers they present are obtained without manipulation of the people being polled. Not so, it seems, in the case of one major pollster seeking the public’s opinion on an environmentally controversial technology for treating of food.

A major pollster conducted the survey for the Consumers Association of Canada on the topic of food irradiation. Not surprisingly, the polling firm found that 3 in 5 (57%) of Canadians had never heard of food irradiation. That response not being sufficient, the pollster then went on to tell those being polled that

As you may or may not know, food irradiation has been used in Canada for selected food items including dried herbs, whole or ground spices, onions, wheat, potatoes and flour. Irradiation of salad greens, chicken and hamburger meat has been used in other countries – including the United States and Mexico – to eliminate harmful bacteria such as listeria and e.coli.
Some people feel that consumers should be able to purchase salad greens, chicken or hamburger meat that have been treated with the process of food irradiation if they are concerned about the risk of illness or death due to harmful bacteria.
To what extent do you support or oppose food irradiation as a choice for consumers when purchasing food items such as salad greens, chicken, hamburger or deli meats?

Following that description, and another equally vague and one-sided:

As you may or may not know, a process called food irradiation is used in some countries in an effort to reduce the presence of harmful bacteria in food.
Food irradiation is defined as: “…a method of preserving food by using a type of radiation energy. It is one of several techniques that can be used by food producers to protect the quality of food before it reaches the grocery store.”

which GallonDaily would describe as a wholly inadequate and significantly biased description of the risks and consequences of food irradiation, the pollster then went on to report that two out of three (66%) Canadians support having irradiated food at the grocery store  as a choice.

GallonDaily cannot see how this survey can be anything other than a deliberate attempt to manipulate public opinion in order to obtain a desired outcome. Whether the manipulation emanated from the pollster, the client of the pollster, or some third party, is unknown at this time. It certainly highlights the dangers of holding public referenda on topics about which the public has little or no knowledge.

The poll results can be found at http://consumer.ca/pdfs/cac_irradiation_report.pdf

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