It’s probably not the news some in the food industry want to hear, but a new study conducted by the University of Vermont suggests consumers won’t be scared away from purchasing foods containing genetically modified ingredients if those foods would be required to carry a GMO label. The study analyzed data from five different years and relied on more than 2,000 responses from surveys sent to Vermont residents.
According to the university, the study focused on the relationship between two questions: whether Vermonters are opposed to GMO’s in commercially available food products; and if respondents thought products containing GMO’s should be labeled. Contrary to what some experts have theorized, results of the study indicated that consumers would not react to a GMO label in a negative way or perceive the label as a ‘warning.’
Results of the study, presented at the annual conference of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, were released just days after the US House of Representatives passed the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015. The bill preempts state-level efforts to create mandatory GMO labeling laws by granting FDA authority to establish a national standard label for food and beverage products containing genetically modified ingredients. The bill has received support from the food industry which argued that a patchwork of state labeling laws would lead to consumer confusion and higher product costs in addition to instilling a misplaced fear in consumers about ingredients that have proven to be safe.
The legislation requires manufacturers to receive FDA certification that their products are deemed safe to enter the market and ensures consistency between non-GMO certification processes established by other labeling programs. The bill also sets a federal standard for the definition of “natural” food. Vermont is currently the only state with a law requiring labels for food containing GMO ingredients. That law is scheduled to take effect in July 2016, though it is being challenged by the food industry.