USDA proposed labels for BE bioengineered GMO food USDA

Americans more familiar with ‘GMO’ label

USDA’s choice of "bioengineered" wording for proposed disclosure rule doesn’t resonate with consumers.

Polling conducted on behalf of the Just Label It campaign found that while many Americans remain uncertain about the term “bioengineered food,” nearly three out of four are familiar with term “genetically modified food.”

The polling comes as the U.S. Department of Agriculture finalizes a rule implementing a 2016 mandatory genetically modified organism (GMO) disclosure law.

One poll of 1,018 Americans, conducted on June 19, found that 72% of respondents were “very” or “somewhat” familiar with the term “genetically modified food.” By contrast, only 55% of respondents were “very” or “somewhat” familiar with “bioengineered food,” the term USDA may require food manufacturers to use under the new disclosure rule.

A second poll of 1,004 Americans, conducted on June 25, showed that less than one-third say they know a “great deal” or “some” about so-called bioengineered food.

“This polling confirms that USDA should use familiar words like ‘genetically modified’ or ‘genetically engineered,’” Just Label It chairman Gary Hirshberg said. “Using words like ‘bioengineered’ will simply sow more consumer confusion at a time when some consumers are still confused about GMO foods.”

Previous polling has found broad, bipartisan support for the mandatory disclosure of GMO foods. A 2015 survey conducted by The Mellman Group on behalf of Just Label It found that more than 88% of Americans support disclosure of GMOs.

Just Label It submitted comments to USDA earlier this month calling on the agency to allow companies to use the words “genetically engineered” or “genetically modified” in GMO disclosures. The organization also urged USDA to reject proposed loopholes for GMO oils and sugars and to provide solutions for consumers without smartphones or reliable cell service who won’t have access to digital disclosures.

Just Label It is a coalition of more than 800 businesses and organizations that support mandatory GMO disclosure.

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