A new study has shown that most shoppers are not steering clear of genetically modified organisms if a food packaging’s label mentions them. A small experiment in Vermont revealed that, even after the food was labeled to pinpoint any content in GMOs, customers still bought those products.
The study appeared this week in Science Advances.
- The study results could give more fodder to GMO advocates that don’t want products containing GMOs to be labeled as such.
- A federal standard about the issue is in the making.
While some studies show that genetically edited crops are harmless to human health, other studies linked GMOs to genetic mutations, metabolic diseases, and even cancer.
There has been a nationwide push for GMO labeling, with advocates arguing that customers could thus make more informed choices. The industry, on the other hand, argues that GMO labeling could deter people from buying the products as they see them as riskier.
GMO Labeling Remains Controversial
In 2014, Vermont legislature passed a bill that forced the food industry to mention on labels whether their products were the result, even in part, of genetic engineering. In 2016, The Green Mountain State become the first U.S. state to have a GMO labeling law.
Just one month after the law’s passage, President Obama passed a law that instructed the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to come up with labeling regulations for GMO products. Obama’s law also put on hold any state regulation regarding the issue.
The new study found that products that still carried a GMO label after Obama’s order did not deter consumers from buying them. Lead author Jane Kolodinsky and her team mixed two surveys about GMO attitudes.
People’s attitude toward GMOs were rated on a 1-to-5 scale. The surveys show that people were more anxious about the crops before the labeling. The rating dropped from 3.36 to 3.077 after the labeling law was passed in Vermont.
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