Non-GM produce earns “halo effect” under new labeling laws
Published: November 25, 2019
Category: Non-GMO News, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
Consumers were more willing to buy unlabeled produce after being shown food tagged as “genetically modified,” a new Cornell University study revealed. The research comes shortly before the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard requiring GMO disclosure labels on foods becomes effective January 1, 2020.
Co-author Miguel Gómez of Cornell’s Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management wanted to predict consumer response to the new labels. “Will shoppers be willing to purchase a product when the new labels are introduced?” he asked.
Researchers recruited 1,300 consumers who were shown GM, non-GM and unlabeled opportunities—in random sequences—to purchase produce. Results showed that when an unlabeled apple was presented first, the initial consumer willingness to purchase was 65.2 percent. But if the unlabeled apple was presented after participants saw an apple with a GM label, the demand for the unlabeled apple jumped to 77.7 percent.
If the consumer was presented first with an apple labeled “non-genetically modified,” the shopper’s preference for it was 67.2 percent—statistically even with the shopper’s initial preference for an unlabeled apple. “In other words, the ‘non-GM’ label is not stigmatizing the unlabeled product,” Gómez said.
Co-author Adeline Yeh said researchers were surprised. “Our original hypothesis was that having a non-GM label would have a stigmatizing effect on the [unlabeled] fresh product. The results contradicted our original hypothesis. Instead, we found that the GMO label had a halo effect on the unlabeled product.”
Source: Cornell University
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