Closeup of GMO food label

Labels identifying genetically engineered foods were briefly required in the US state of Vermont and will be implemented nationwide in the coming years. Credit: Sally McCay/UVM

Society

Consumers soften to genetically engineered foods after addition of labels

Results in Vermont suggest mandatory labelling improves reputation of GE foods.

Labelling genetically engineered foods could improve public attitudes towards these products.

Some consumers are wary of genetically engineered foods, which will bear mandatory labels in the United States as early as 2020. That requirement has ignited debate about how such labels might affect consumer attitudes towards these products. To address this question, Jane Kolodinsky at the University of Vermont in Burlington and Jayson Lusk at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, surveyed more than 7,800 people across the United States, including in Vermont, the only US state to have mandated labelling of genetically engineered foods.

Respondents were asked to rank their support of genetically engineered foods before and after Vermont implemented its policy. Opposition to genetically engineered foods increased nationwide, whereas it fell by 19% in Vermont over the same period.