GMO labels scaring consumers (Editorial)

(Oct. 4, 2016) In the most recent debate over requiring foods to carry a label somewhere on the front of the package declaring that the food product therein contained, or was derived from a source produced by genetic modification.
At the core of the debate lurked the conviction by many consumers, in a culture dominated by the Millennial Generation, that meddling with the genetics of a food source rendered it unsafe and of course inedible.
Vermont lawmakers, and Gov. Bernie Sanders, signed a law requiring GMO labeling in the state.
Congressional lawmakers on the other hand, suspecting that Vermont’s action could spark a mish-mash of similar and ultimately confusing legislation in other states, and also, it should be noted, not at all convinced that GMOs were to be feared, adopted more modest national standards for informing consumers of what the packaged food contained.
Meanwhile, the Vermont law went into effect and, as expected by the agriculture and food industries as a whole, the labels did not inform customers, it scared them.
A recent online survey in Vermont of 1,665 online primary shoppers examined consumer understanding of five common on-pack food labels.
It found that on-pack labeling of genetically modified ingredients “strongly misleads consumers.”
The American Soybean Association points to the data as evidence of the potential impact of the labeling approach in Vermont.
When consumers were asked about the GMO label statements mandated by the Vermont law, the survey showed that on-pack labeling “misled substantial percentages of consumers to wrongly perceive the labeled product as less safe, less healthful, less nutritious, and worse for the environment.”
Is it too much to expect that today’s consumers can be informed about — and led to understand — the science and technology blended into 21st century food production?
Probably so. But we can’t stop trying.