America is often a nation divided on any number of wedge issues, but GMO labeling apparently isn't one of them. A poll conducted by research firm The Mellman Group finds 89 percent of likely 2016 presidential election voters favor mandatory labels on "foods which have been genetically engineered or containing genetically engineered ingredients." Seventy-seven percent of respondents say they strongly favor the idea.
The poll was released a couple of weeks after the Food and Drug Administration declared genetically modified salmon fit for human consumption. The FDA said in its report, "AquAdvantage salmon is as safe to eat as any non-genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon, and also as nutritious." However, the administration doesn't require any sort of labeling on the salmon, which leaves disclosure up to retailers. The salmon is the first genetically modified animal intended for human consumption to garner FDA approval.
The lack of a labeling requirement doesn't sit right with the New York Times editorial board, which says "consumers deserve to know what they are eating." Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives for Consumers Union, told Consumerist she hopes the new poll sends a message to Congress.
"Americans have yet again expressed an overwhelming desire to know what's in their food," Halloran said. "Shoppers want to see clear labels on food packaging that tell them if products are made with genetically engineered ingredients without having to use confusing codes or smartphone apps. We hope lawmakers hear consumers' call for meaningful, mandatory national GMO labeling."
Looking for a compromise, some have proposed applying labels with bar codes that could be scanned by smartphones to reveal GMO information. Participants in the poll shot down that idea, too, with 88 percent saying they would prefer written information.