While activist groups have incited fear over genetically modified food and feed ingredients, and pressed for government mandates for labeling such products, most consumers continue to support current FDA labeling policy, according to a new report from the International Food Information Council (IFIC).

Current FDA policy on labeling for foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) requires labeling only when biotechnology substantially changes the food’s nutritional content or composition, or when a potential safety issue such as a food allergen is identified.  

According to results of the IFIC Consumer Perceptions of Food Technology Survey, 74 percent of consumers could not think of any additional information that they would like added to food labels, while 8 percent wanted additional nutritional information, 5 percent wanted more ingredient information and 4 percent wanted information about biotechnology or related terms.

Sixty-three percent of consumers indicate support the FDA’s current labeling policy for foods produced using biotechnology, although there was a slight increase in consumers indicating opposition to the policy, at 19 percent, compared to 14 percent in 2012.

Other key findings in the report include:

  • Seventy-one percent of Americans indicate having some awareness of plant biotechnology, 28 percent are favorable toward plant biotechnology and 28 percent view the technology unfavorably – up from 20 percent in 2012. Forty-three percent of consumers are neutral or say they don’t know enough to form an opinion.
  • Among Millennials between the ages of 18 and 34, 38 percent view the technology favorably compared with 2 percent of consumers aged 35 to 54 and 25 percent among those 55 and older.
  • Seventy-two percent of consumers indicate they would be likely to purchase food products modified by biotechnology to provide more healthful fats, such as Omega-3 fatty acids, while 69 percent say they would be likely to purchase foods improved with biotechnology to reduce the potential for carcinogens or to protect crops from insect damage and require fewer pesticide applications. Sixty-seven percent say they would likely purchase foods modified to enhance nutritional benefits or eliminate trans-fat content.
  • Seventy-four percent of consumers agree that modern agriculture can be sustainable, produce high-quality foods (72 percent), and produce nutritious foods (71 percent)., and 68 percent agree that modern agriculture produces safe foods.
  • Just 26 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for foods that fit their perception of sustainability, down from 33 percent in 2012, although that number increases to 43 percent among Millennials.

Read more at foodinsight.org.