IFIC Survey: Consumers Support Current Food Labeling Policies

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Less Than 1 Percent of All Respondents Cited Biotechnology as Info Needed

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 10, 2012) – The newly released International Food Information Council (IFIC) survey, “Consumer Perceptions of Food Technology & Sustainability”, shows U.S. consumers overwhelmingly support current federal rules for labeling foods. Of the small percentage of consumers who want more detail on their labels, only 3 percent (or 1 percent of the total sample) cited biotechnology as an information need on the label.

“Education is important to continue raising awareness, but simply labeling a food ‘Genetically Engineered’ or ‘GE’ doesn’t provide any meaningful information to consumers,” said Dr. Cathleen Enright, Executive Vice President, Food and Agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). “Most consumers don’t know that farmers and seed breeders have been genetically enhancing plants since the dawn of agriculture to make them disease and pest resistant, to make plants hardier and healthier, and to enable food to be grown in a more environmentally sustainable manner.

“A specific label won’t inform consumers that genetic engineering is simply the most precise breeding tool available. In addition, since there are no food safety concerns associated with genetically enhanced food, nor are there material differences between food that is and isn’t grown using biotechnology, doesn’t it make sense to reserve the limited space on a food label for important food safety and nutritional information?”

IFIC reported that satisfaction with current food labels continues to be high with 76 percent of consumers unable to think of any additional information that they wish to see on food labels. When presented with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) current labeling policy for foods produced using biotechnology, 66 percent supported the current policy.

“In the public landscape, we often see polling that tries to provoke or frighten people into giving a certain desired response,” said IFIC President and CEO David Schmidt.  “We don’t believe in leading consumers to any conclusion. We believe our open-ended methodology used at the beginning of our survey provides a more accurate view of concerns on Americans’ minds, and the survey is the most objective and long-term publicly available data set on U.S. consumer attitudes toward food and agricultural biotechnology.”

The survey also showed that the majority of Americans (74 percent) have some awareness of plant biotechnology and that consumers responded favorably to purchasing foods modified by biotechnology that required fewer pesticide applications (77 percent); or that provided more healthful fats, such as Omega-3 fatty acids (71 percent).

For additional information and the study’s executive summary, visit: http://www.foodinsight.org/

About BIO
BIO is the world's largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. BIOtechNOW is BIO's blog chronicling “innovations transforming our world” and the BIO Newsletter is the organization’s bi-weekly email newsletter. Subscribe to the BIO Newsletter.