Survey finds that proposed GMO labels lower consumer acceptance and less willingness to pay under various labeling options
Published: August 4, 2018
Category: GMO Labeling News, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
While the University of Vermont study found that GMO labels could reduce consumers’ fears about genetically engineered foods, another survey has found the opposite: that labels proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to disclose “bioengineered” (BE) foods dramatically increase a wide variety of consumer concerns, especially regarding human health.
Those are among the findings of new research by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation.
IFIC Foundation tested reactions to the USDA’s three proposed “BE” labeling symbols and two variations of text disclosures. In every combination, levels of concern across a variety of factors increased—often substantially—when a disclosure label was applied.
For example, consumers were shown bottles of canola oil 1) without any BE logo or text, 2) with one of the three symbols (a plant, a sun or a smile), 3) with a symbol, plus “bioengineered” in text and 4) with a symbol, plus “may be bioengineered” in text. An additional group of consumers were shown just text disclosure, without any BE logo.
When shown the bottle without any disclosure, 31 percent of a group of respondents had human health concerns. But that rose to 50 percent when shown the BE “plant” symbol, further increasing to 51 percent when text was added to indicate that the product was “bioengineered,” and to 57 percent when “may be bioengineered” was added to the “plant” logo.
The survey also found that nearly half—47 percent—of Americans said they avoid GMO foods at least somewhat. The vast majority (85 percent) of those who avoid GMOs do so out of human health concerns.
Source: International Food Information Council Foundation
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