The survey - conducted by the MSR Group and sponsored by the CRA, the American Soybean Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Grain and Feed Association, and SNAC International – showed that “on-pack labeling misled substantial percentages of consumers to wrongly perceive the labeled product as less safe, less healthful, less nutritious, and worse for the environment,” said the CRA.
“The Vermont on-pack GMO label requirements [‘partially produced with genetic engineering,’ ‘may be produced with genetic engineering,’ and ‘produced with genetic engineering’] are powerfully disparaging,” added the CRA, which is supporting a federal GMO labeling bill currently being discussed in the Senate that would pre-empt the Vermont GMO labeling law (which came into effect on July 1).
According to the survey, which was conducted in mid-June, the Vermont mandated GMO label statement caused:
- 36% of consumers to perceive the food to be ‘less safe.’
- 28% of consumers to perceive the food to be ‘less healthful.’
- 22% of consumers to perceive the food to be ‘less nutritious.’
- 20% of consumers to incorrectly perceive the food to be ‘worse for the environment.’
- 73% of consumers to be less likely to buy the food.
The survey also showed significant variations by age group, with younger consumers (aged 18-24) far more likely to view the GMO-labeled food negatively than older consumers, said the CRA.
According to the associations sponsoring the survey: “With shocking clarity, the survey results demonstrate why food companies would be pressured to switch to non-GMO ingredients to avoid the requirement of Vermont’s on-pack GMO label and potential conflicting multi-state labeling requirements.”
While MSR Group did not test consumer reactions to the GMO disclosure options proposed in the federal GMO labeling bill recently introduced to the Senate, the Senate bill [which would allow firms to use words, QR codes or symbols to indicate the presence of GMOs] would “allow food companies to include informative statements that educate, rather than mislead, consumers," said the associations.
However, opposition to the Senate bill - which is being debated this week - continues to mount, with natural and organic online platform Thrive Market today urging its customers not to support it, along with anti-GMO activists, and senators Jeff Merkley, Patrick Leahy, Jon Tester, Richard Blumenthal and Bernie Sanders.