According to an article in the New York Times, while a majority of consumers surveyed think it s important to know if foods are made with genetically engineered (GMO) ingredients, most are pretty ignorant about what s already out there in the marketplace. The paper ran its own quiz to see how its readers did on similar questions. Among other queries they asked (Spoiler alert answers are included):
- Of corn, wheat, soy and papaya, which does NOT have a GMO version on the market?The answer: Wheat. But only 24 percent of respondents got it right.
- Which of these ingredients comes from a genetically altered source? The choices were: the B vitamin riboflavin, xanthan gum, baking powder, caramel color, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, phenylalanine. The answer: All of them. Fifty-five percent of respondents got this right.
- Which state currently has no laws requiring GMO labels? The choices: California, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont. The answer: California. Only 34 percent of respondents knew this.
- Which label or seal is federally regulated and assures that foods contain virtually no GMO ingredients? The choices: USDA s organic seal, the natural label, non G.M.O. Project seal, Fair Trade seals, Gluten-free seals. The answer: organic seal. Thirty-eight percent of respondents got this one right.
Further, a survey cited in the Times article found that although 52 percent of consumers say they know what GMOs are, only 30 percent know which crops are most likely to use GMOs, and only 28 percent say they know which products contain GMO ingredients. In addition, 71 percent of those surveyed said they avoided GMOs because they were concerned about possible impacts on their health.
Such consumer preferences have led many manufacturers to voluntarily label their products as non-GMO, although there is no one group or agency that verifies this statement.
ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava had this to say: Obviously, much remains to be accomplished with respect to consumers information about GMOs, as well as uniformity of labeling standards voluntary or not. ACSH has provided sound science-based information about the use of genetic engineering in agriculture here, and we believe this publication can do much to counter misperceptions about GMO foods and ingredients.