Despite recent political hardships in getting new GMO labeling laws passed in states like Washington and California, the vast majority of all Americans still want to see foods containing genetically modified organisms labeled according to a new Consumer Reports Poll.
Ballot measures in the aforementioned states were defeated due to massive spending in the millions on deceptive advertising campaigns by pro-GMO interests, but similar measures have passed in other states including in Vermont, Maine and Connecticut recently (the latter two states need similar measures to pass from other neighboring states before the labeling laws take effect).
Other labeling measures are gaining momentum across the country as well, including in New York state, where a vote could happen this week, as well as in Massachusetts, Oregon and Colorado.
Among the key findings of the new national Consumer Reports poll are that 92% of respondents believe that GM food should be labeled before being sold, 92% believe that GM food should meet government safety standards before being sold, and 92% are also demanding labels on GM salmon, which has not officially been approved yet, and grows to maturity about twice as fast as a normal salmon. Several of the nation’s top grocery stores including the two biggest, Kroger and Safeway, have already pledged not to carry the GM salmon.
In addition, 72% of respondents also said that it’s “crucial;” either “important” or “very important” by the survey’s definitions, for them to avoid GM foods when shopping.
“This poll underscores that, across the country, consumers want labeling of GE food, including GE salmon, and consider safety standards set by the government of such food imperative,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports.
No questions were asked about GM cross-contamination of other crops through pollination, however, another problem caused by GMOs that has not been addressed by government officials.
Currently, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not require labeling or pre-market safety assessments of GM food, as this article notes. This policy continues despite nearly two million public comments that have been submitted urging mandatory labeling of GM foods.
Currently, 64 nations around the world require labels on GM food including the much of Europe, along Japan, Australia, India, Russia and China.
Recently, France and Russia both adopted bans on GM foods, and China has consistently rejected shipments of GM food from the United States in recent months.
More on the Consumer Reports Poll Results
For the poll, respondents were contacted via phone from April 17-21, 2014. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.
A total of 1,004 adults were surveyed by the Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) of Princeton, New Jersey for the poll.
The results were statistically weighted so that the respondents in the survey represented the U.S. population demographically and geographically.
In addition to their desire for labels on genetically modified foods, respondents also said they: prioritized supporting local farmers (92% said it was “crucial according to the definition previously listed), protecting the environment from chemicals and pesticides (89% “crucial”), reducing exposure to pesticides in foods (87% “crucial”), supporting companies that provide good working conditions and fair pay to farmworkers (86% “crucial”), providing better living conditions for farm animals (80% “crucial”), reducing antibiotics in food production (78% “crucial”), and avoiding artificial ingredients such as colors or flavors (69% “crucial).
The full survey can be viewed by clicking on this link.
Americans have consistently voted above the 90% mark in favor of GM food labeling in recent years, in polls conducted by major news organizations ranging from MSNBC to the New York Times and ABC News. This year’s Consumer Reports poll was down from the 2008 version which showed that 95% of respondents want labels, however.
Large food corporations have been able to stave off voting measures largely through exorbitant expenditures on deceptive advertising, however, and other tactics, including in Washington in 2013 when the state’s attorney general ordered the pro-GMO Grocery Manufacturers’ Association to disclose donors to the “No on I-522″ GMO labeling measure that were being hidden.
The attorney general, Bob Ferguson, called it “the largest amount of money that had ever been concealed in an election.”