Crop Biotech Update

Consumers' Preference to Buy Unlabeled Produce Increases after Exposure to GMO-labeled Products

November 13, 2019

Consumers in the US were more willing to purchase unlabeled GM fruits and vegetables after being shown food products with "genetically modified" labels. This is the finding of the study conducted by Cornell University published in PLOS One journal. The study was published just as food sellers prepare for the new federal law requiring GM food disclosure labels which will take effect on January 1, 2022.

"We wanted to learn from consumers what will happen to conventional products when the labeling goes into effect and we start seeing ‘GM' and ‘non-GM' labeled produce at the market," said Miguel Gómez, one of the authors of the study. "Will shoppers be willing to purchase a product when the new labels are introduced?"

A total of 1,300 consumers were shown with GM, non-GM and unlabeled fruits and vegetables in random sequences. When the unlabeled apple was offered first, the willingness to buy was 65.2%. But when the unlabeled apple was shown right after the consumer saw an apple with GM label, the demand for the unlabeled apple increased to 77.7%. On the other hand, when the non-GM labeled apple was presented first before the unlabeled apple, the willingness to buy did not increase significantly, showing that the non-GM label was not stigmatizing the unlabeled product.

The results of the study contribute to the ongoing discussion of the implementation of the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard in the US.

Read more findings from Cornell and PLOS One.

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