Harris Poll finds support for federal GMO labeling

by World Grain Staff
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ROCHESTER, NEW YORK, U.S. — A Harris Poll released May 25 found 75% of respondents said they supported labeling legislation for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and 9% said they opposed it. The remaining respondents said they were not at all sure. Among the supporters, 78% said the federal government should legislate the labeling and 22% said state governments should do so.

The Harris Poll surveyed 2,015 U.S. adults on-line between April 29 and May 3.

“This response from the public makes one thing clear: Consumers are ripe to support regulations requiring the labeling of GMOs,” said Sarah Simmons, vice-president and senior consultant, reputation management and public affairs practice at Rochester, New York, U.S.-based The Harris Poll. “Food manufacturers would be wise to deepen their understanding of how these attitudes could impact their business and what they can do to limit the risk to their reputation and license to operate.”

Although the poll showed a high approval rating for federal legislation, a state genetically engineered food labeling law in Vermont is scheduled to take effect July 1.

A report published in May by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found no evidence that bioengineered foods for human consumption posed unintended risks or were a threat to the environment. The health of livestock that ate bioengineered feed also showed no adverse effects, according to study results.

Still, the Harris Poll found Americans are concerned about the unknown when it comes to bioengineered ingredients/GMOs. 58% said they agreed with a statement that because there have been no long-term studies, not enough is known about the impact on human health, pesticide use or the growth of super weeds/super bugs.

The poll found 43% said they were somewhat familiar with GMOs and 15% said they were very familiar. Another 24% said they were not very familiar, and 18% said they were not at all familiar. While 81% said they considered GMO labeling to be a health and safety issue, 19% said it was an environmental issue.

For the complete poll, click here.
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