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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Poll: Most voters want genetically modified food labels

Tracy Loew, (Salem, Ore.) Statesman Journal, Dec. 2, 2015

SALEM, Ore. — A majority of voters across the USA support mandatory labeling of food containing genetically engineered ingredients, a new national poll commissioned by labeling supporters shows.

Of 800 voters surveyed last month, 89% said they support mandatory labeling; 6% said they oppose such a requirement. The remainder said they do not have an opinion.

The poll comes as some congressional lawmakers are pushing to add a provision to the omnibus spending bill that would block states from putting their own genetically modified organism labeling requirements in place. It also comes less than two weeks after the federal Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of unlabeled genetically engineered salmon.

Environmental Working Group, Consumers Union, Food and Water Watch, Friends of the Earth and Center for Food Safety commissioned the poll.

Q&A: What you need to know about genetically engineered foods

“This is yet another poll that shows broad and deep support for clear GMO labeling at a time when the issue is more important than ever,” said Scott Faber, executive director of Just Label It. “Food manufacturers and lawmakers should work together to give Americans a more transparent food system by crafting a nonjudgmental, mandatory GMO labeling system that is easily found on the packaging.”

The poll also asked voters whether they would choose GMO labels printed on a package or bar codes or QR codes that could be scanned with a smartphone, as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack suggested.

Consumer and environmental groups say scannable codes discriminate against those who can’t afford smartphones or live in areas without reliable cellphone service.

Mandatory GMO food labeling by states would be banned under proposed bill

“They are a completely unacceptable substitute for clear, concisely worded on-package labeling,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety. “The right to know is a right for all, not just those who can afford it.”

Printed labels were the choice of 88% of poll respondents; 8% preferred scannable bar codes.

The groups also raised a concern that food manufacturers could gather information about customers, such as their location and product choices, when they scan food packages.

Yes, we have no GMO bananas. For now.

Such data collection should be prohibited, according to 82% of poll respondents.

The Mellman Group, a polling organization based in the District of Columbia, conducted telephone interviews Nov. 16 to 19. The poll has a 95% confidence level at an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Follow Tracy Loew on Twitter: @Tracy_Loew

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