Most Are Skeptical of Bio-Engineered Food
93% Want Labels on Genetically Modified Foods
ABC News has conducted an opinion poll on genetically engineered foods. Thanks to the Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods for circulating a summary, which we have excerpted here.
With safety concerns widespread, Americans almost unanimously favor mandatory labels on genetically modified foods. And most say they'd use those labels to avoid the food.
Barely more than a third of the public believes that genetically modified foods are safe to eat. Instead 52 percent believe such foods are unsafe, and an additional 13 percent are unsure about them. That's broad doubt on the very basic issue of food safety.
Perception of Genetically Modified FoodsNearly everyone, moreover - 93 percent - says the federal government should require labels on food saying whether it's been genetically modified, or "bio-engineered" (this poll used both phrases). Such near-unanimity in public opinion is rare.
Safe - 35%
Unsafe - 52%
No opinion - 13%
Fifty-seven percent also say they'd be less likely to buy foods labeled as genetically modified. That puts the food industry in a quandary: By being honest and meeting consumer demand for labeling, they might be steering business away from their genetically modified products.
The image problem of genetically modified food is underscored by contrast to organic foods. While only five percent of Americans say they'd be more likely to buy a food labeled as genetically modified, 52 percent say they'd be more likely to buy food that's labeled as having been raised organically.
Organic AdvantageGenetically modified foods are particularly unpopular among women, another problem for food producers since so many women do the family shopping.
Food labeled: Genetically Modified:
More likely to buy - 5%
Less likely to buy - 57%
No difference - 34%
Food labeled: Organically Raised
More likely to buy - 52%
Less likely to buy - 10%
No difference - 36%
Sixty-two percent of women think genetically modified foods are unsafe to eat, a view that's shared by fewer men, 40 percent. Similarly, while 49 percent of men say they'd be less likely to buy food labeled as genetically modified, that jumps to 65 percent of women. (Similar numbers of women and men say they're more likely to buy organic foods.) There's also a distinction by age; people under 45 are about 10 points more likely than their elders to think genetically modified foods are safe to eat. But a majority of young adults still calls genetically modified foods unsafe.
The poll also found a political difference. Republicans divide evenly on whether genetically modified foods are safe or unsafe. Independents rate them unsafe by a 20-point margin; Democrats, by a 26-point margin. The poll failed to record other political party affiliations.
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