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Food Labeling and Consumer Associations with Health, Safety, and Environment.

ABSTRACT

The food supply is complicated and consumers are increasingly calling for labeling on food to be more informative. In particular, consumers are asking for the labeling of food derived from genetically modified organisms (GMO) based on health, safety, and environmental concerns. At issue is whether the labels that are sought would accurately provide the information desired. The present study examined consumer (n = 181) perceptions of health, safety and the environment for foods labeled organic, natural, fat free or low fat, GMO, or non-GMO. Findings indicated that respondents consistently believed that foods labeled GMO are less healthy, safe and environmentally-friendly compared to all other labels (ps < .05). These results suggest that labels mean something to consumers, but that a disconnect may exist between the meaning associated with the label and the scientific consensus for GMO food. These findings may provide insight for the development of labels that provide information that consumers seek.