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A majority of American voters support mandatory labeling of food containing genetically engineered ingredients, a new national poll commissioned by labeling supporters shows.
Eighty-nine percent of the 800 voters surveyed last month said they support mandatory labeling. Six percent said they oppose such a requirement, while 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 implementing their own GMO labeling requirements.
It also comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of unlabeled genetically engineered salmon.
The poll was commissioned by Environmental Working Group, Consumers Union, Food and Water Watch, Friends of the Earth and Center for Food Safety.
“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 non-judgmental, mandatory GMO labeling system that is easily found on the packaging.”
The poll also asked voters whether they would choose GMO labels printed on the package, or bar codes or QR codes that could be scanned with a smartphone, as suggested by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
Consumer and environmental groups say scannable codes discriminate against those who can’t afford smartphones or live in areas without reliable cellphone service.
“QR code labeling discriminates against the poor, minorities, rural populations and the elderly. 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.”
Eighty-eight percent of poll respondents said they preferred printed labels, while 8 percent preferred scannable bar codes.
The groups also raise the concern that food manufacturers could gather information about customers, such as their location and product choices, when they scan food packages.
Eighty-two percent of poll respondents said such data collection should be prohibited.
Washington, D.C.-based pollster The Mellman Group conducted telephone interviews Nov. 16-19. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent at a 95-percent level of confidence.
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