Consumers want mandatory GMO labeling

Aug 9, 2017

According to a new public opinion poll from the Angus Reid Institute, fewer than two-in-five Canadians say believe it is safe to eat genetically modified foods.

Dig a little deeper, however, and it becomes clear that most Canadians lack an understanding of what, exactly, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are or how they are produced.

The traditional cross-breeding of plants is, by definition, genetic modification, however, current practices are speeding up the process. These include "mutagenesis" (subjecting an organism to chemicals or radiation until it develops a desired trait), and recombinant DNA (introducing a gene from one species into a different species).

Asked to rate their personal knowledge of GMOs, 60% of Canadians say they “know a little bit about them,” a self-assessment borne out in their responses to knowledge-testing questions on the topic.

Despite this, the vast majority of respondents (83%) say at least some GMOs should be subject to mandatory labeling in grocery stores, though the consensus is somewhat less clear on which types of GMOs ought to be subject to the rules.

Key Findings:

  • Four-in-ten Canadians (39%) say it’s ‘generally safe’ to eat genetically modified foods. Another three-in-ten (28%) say it is generally unsafe, while the rest (33%) are unsure
  • More than eight-in-ten (83%) say at least one type of GMOs should be subject to mandatory labeling, but responses vary depending on the type of genetic modification in question
  • As a shopping consideration, GMOs are relatively low on the consumer radar. Fewer than one-in-five (19%) place “free of GMOs” among the three most important things they look for when food shopping.

Related Links

Link to the poll:

Download the PDF with detailed tables, graphs and methodology