Research shows consumers taking personal interest in GMOs
Consumers want to know how Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) affect health-theirs and their family's-and are less concerned with political or moral issues surrounding GMOs. While they see the value of planting GMO crops in drought-stricken areas and they acknowledge the benefits to farmers-39 percent are concerned about potential health issues caused by GMOs in the food they eat.
In its fourth-annual research project focused on consumers and food, Charleston|Orwig uncovered ample opportunities for companies across the food system to engage with consumers:
• Sixty percent of consumers representing all levels of understanding want to know how GMOs impact theirs and their family's health.
• Forty-nine percent are interested in research on the safety of GMOs and what items are most likely to be produced with GMOs.
• Forty-one percent want to know how GMO food is different from food produced without GMOs and about the potential benefits.
"Food production has become a hot-button topic and consumers consistently hear about GMOs across a number of channels. We wondered about the average consumer's perceived knowledge of GMOs, as well as their concerns and whether they were open to learning more," said Mark Gale, CEO and partner.
Charleston|Orwig commissioned Datassential, a leading research company for the food industry, to conduct the survey of more than 1,000 consumers nationwide. Participants were qualified as having some level of awareness of GMOs.
More than 75 percent of consumers who responded believe they have some understanding of GMOs beyond basic awareness, with 13 percent reporting "very in-depth" understanding, 31 percent "good" understanding and 33 percent "fair." Understanding seemed to rise with income. Among those reporting a "good understanding" of GMOs, 40 percent represented households with annual income of $75,000 to $99,999 and 38 percent reported household income of $50,000 to $74,999.
Overall, consumers in the Charleston|Orwig survey did not support an outright ban on GMOs, but there is strong support for regulation and labeling. Nearly 60 percent believe GMOs should be regulated at the federal level, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the appropriate oversight agency; 51 percent agree with regulation at the state level. Additionally, 53 percent believe food manufacturers and restaurants should identify what items have GMO ingredients.
Greater understanding among men
Of respondents reporting an "in-depth understanding" of GMOs, 41 percent represented the upper spectrum of the millennial generation, ages 26-34. The bulk of these respondents - 55 percent - were parents, and 49 percent of parents had children under age 6.
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