Study Finds Vermont GMO Labeling Misleading

Joanna SchroederASA, biotechnology, GMO, Labeling

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 3.38.56 PMWith July 1st come and gone the new genetically modified ingredients (GMO) labels hit the shelves in Vermont. The anticipation of the new label prompted an online survey of 1,665 online shoppers, commissioned by the American Soybean Association (ASA). The survey found that the labels are misleading to consumers. The five food labels tested were common food label statements related to trans-fat, allergens, gluten, organic and GMOs.

According to ASA, when consumers were asked about the GMO label statements mandated by the Vermont law, the survey showed that on-pack labeling misled substantial percentages of consumers to wrongly perceive the labeled product as less safe, less healthful, less nutritious, and worse for the environment. Approximately 73 percent of consumers indicated they would be less likely to buy foods bearing one of the required on-pack GMO label disclosures. The survey found that the Vermont mandated GMO label statement caused approximately:

36% of consumers to incorrectly perceive the food to be “less safe.”
28% of consumers to incorrectly perceive the food to be “less healthful.”
22% of consumers to incorrectly perceive the food to be “less nutritious.”
20% of consumers to incorrectly perceive the food to be “worse for the environment.”
73% of consumers to be less likely to buy the food.

“The survey demonstrates that the Vermont on-pack GMO labeling law that is effectively setting GMO labeling policy for interstate commerce is misleading to consumers and powerfully disparaging of a safe, environmentally appropriate technology,” read a statement from the organizations that commissioned the study. “The Roberts Stabenow compromise bill now pending in the U.S. Senate would preempt the inappropriate Vermont GMO labeling law and permit GMO disclosure without the on-pack labeling that is so misleading and disparaging to consumers.”

The U.S. Senate Wednesday voted 65-31 to limit debate on the Roberts-Stabenow National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard that would preempt individual state laws to require labeling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients. With cloture invoked, the Senate is expected vote on final passage as early as today.