Iowa grocery shoppers have varied views on GMOs


 

The produce section of a Hy-Vee in Ankeny, Iowa (Douglas Porter/Flickr)
The produce section of a Hy-Vee in Ankeny, Iowa (Douglas Porter/Flickr)

The use of genetically modified organisms ranks low in the list of factors Iowans consider when buying groceries, according to a new survey from the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.

The study, conducted online by Harris Poll, surveyed around 500 Iowans who buy groceries, focusing on the factors that influence packaged food purchases. It found that while 95 percent of Iowa’s corn is genetically modified, only 18 percent of consumers said a GMO label would cause them to choose one product over another, falling well behind “Natural” (30%) and “Organic” (25%) and just ahead of “Gluten free” (13%), according to a Des Moines Register infographic. Taste and price were listed among the most important factors behind packaged food purchases.

The study found confusion around the usefulness of GMO labels on packaged products. While 36 percent of those surveyed believe a non-GMO label denotes a safer product, 32 percent think the label is meaningless. Faced with the option of paying more for food with a GMO-free label, 38 percent opted for the lower price, while 26 percent preferred the non-GMO product and 36 percent were unsure.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that genetically modified plants must meet the same safety requirements for human consumption as traditionally bred plants, the World Health Organization has highlighted some environmental concerns of the technology, like decreased crop rotation, harm to beneficial insects and the potential for new plant pathogens.

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