Half of All Americans Wouldn’t Buy FrankenFoods…If They Could Tell The Difference

frankenfood.gifA recent New York Times/CBS poll bears good news for ecopreneurs in the food industry. Fifty-Three percent of consumers said they would not buy genetically modified food. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell the difference between Frankenfoods and the real thing.

A new CBS News poll found that 87% of consumers would like GMO ingredients to be labeled, just as they are in Europe, Japan and Australia. Yet the U.S. Congress has never even held a vote on the issue, to give shoppers the opportunity to exercise their most basic right – to make a choice.

Once again, labeling decisions made by the FDA and USDA, influenced heavily by big agriculture are keeping consumers from understanding what is in their food. The FDA’s position is: GMOs are the “substantial equivalent” of conventional crops and so does not require “disclosure of genetic engineering techniques…on the label.”

Of course, there’s an explanation for that.

Robert Brackett is spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers of America.

“I think that consumers have that information available to them if they want to look for it,” says Brackett, “You can find it on websites. You can go directly to the manufacturer.”

Well, OK – be glad to do that if I had time, but, in fact though most consumers don’t. And herein lies the opportunity for eco entrepreneurs.

Today, more than 90 percent of the U.S. soybean crop is genetically modified – had its DNA altered to increase production and withstand chemical weed killers like roundup. Nearly three-quarters of all corn planted in the U.S. genetically modified.

Experts say that means if it comes in a can or a box and the label lists soybean oil or corn syrup as ingredients, odds are that it contains GMOs. Overall, 65 percent of all products in your local grocery store have DNA-altered ingredients…not that you’d know it by looking.

As an eco entrepreneur with food products that do not contain GMOs you probably already prominently display that on your labels. But, what’s the next step? Capitalize on the P.R. As this poll makes the rounds of media; get your public relations team working to spread your name around as an alternative. Give interviews, send out press releases; distribute the poll information to your consumers…they’ll pass it on.

P.R. can be a powerful tool! What other ideas do you have?

Image Credit: Scott Pollock under Creative Commons License

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About the Author

Hear Maryanne speak on Social Media for Socially Conscious Brands at Expo East on September 27th! Maryanne Conlin is CPG brand marketer and digital marketing expert, CEO of RedRopes Digital and Partner Digital Strategy, 4GreenPs. A Shorty Award winner for best Green Content on Twitter, she was a member of the IAA team that won the Green Award in 2010 and most recently was a finalist for the PRSA - Los Angeles PRISM awards for social media. She and her team focus on providing strategic marketing direction, custom content for web, mobile and social platforms, social media community management and online promotions and digital advertising solutions for companies in the green, food and Hispanic space. Follow her on Twitter @maryanneconlin
  • Uncle B

    Apart from a bio-tech disaster that could show up decades or even a generation later, GMOs are the saviors of our American lifestyle. There is no way we could live the way we do without them.
    When Monsanto and other GMO producing giants develop a GMO modified plant that will grow anywhere and produce huge amounts of bio-diesel quickly and easily, we will realize the tremendous contribution they make to bettering our lifestyle.
    A hemp plant that produces biodiesel fuel and fiber for paper and cloth but no TCP, is entirely possible, as well as a modified version of ‘Jatropha’ an oily weed grown in the tropics. If we don’t let these Scientists work, and take some minimal risks we assign ourselves to repeating the past, with carcinogenic benzine molecules from petroleum as abundant in our society as the cancers they cause us, and no one protests that fact!

  • nornerator

    There is a bias against genetically altered foods, and for good reason. As consumers we are often lied to about what is in our food and how bad it is for us.

    However that being said, it is common for people to be against things like genetically modified food without really having a reason except fear of the unknown.

    There is nothing intrinsically wrong with genetically modifying foods. It is simply altering the genetic structure of foods so that they are higher yielding, don’t need as many toxic pesticides, and are more nutritious.

    As consumers we need to be skeptical of the things we buy, and certainly there are probably GMO foods that we should not be buying. But by holding a uniform opinion about all GMO foods could be potentially just as bad as not being skeptical at all.

    A smart approach is to take each GMO product and review the evidence..

  • Valentine Dyall

    Odd, isn’t it, that all those people should decide they would not eat GM foods when they have been doing so for more than a decade with no perceptible effects. How were they provoked, I wonder? By the use. perhaps, of a nice evocative term like “Frankenfood”?

    Moreover, one might presume that, by the same token, half of all Americans would buy GM foods if they were labeled.

  • This is a great article! I referenced it on my blog. If you want to check and see what I wrote you can find it here: http://bloggermom.wordpress.com/2008/06/06/half-of-all-americans-wouldn%e2%80%99t-buy-frankenfoods%e2%80%a6if-they-could-tell-the-difference/
    Keep writing great stuff!

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  • Consumers Unite

    How would people with adverse reactions to GMOs know that they were having them because of a GMO if they did not know they had ingested one? There has been a rise in food related sicknesses as well as allergies since the introduction of GMOs into the food supply.

    My mother had to go to the hospital due to an allergic reaction to something she ate. This had never happened to her before as she had previously had no known food allergies. People have many digestive problems and other health issues of which they do not know the cause. I have three friends who have “crone’s like symptoms” that have surfaced in the last decade that the doctors cannot seem to find the reason for. Perhaps if people knew they were ingesting these foods, they would look to them when strange new sicknesses occur. However, without labeling, it is impossible to rule out GMO ingestion as the cause.

    It is ridiculous to say people have been ingesting these foods “for a decade with no perceptible effects.” Basically, due to the lack of labeling, any potential problem that has occurred in humans who have ingested GMOs without their knowledge could have been caused by ingestion of those GMOs. There have been no independent studies done on humans still to this day, except for the one that was done in Europe with the colostomy bags, which showed that genetic material actually did survive digestion, contrary to what the biotech industry claims about the Bt pesticides engineered into their corn (not a good thing for consumers of GMOs).

    Besides, the concept of genetic engineering was based on a now disputed theory check out this article from The New York Times: I guess these scientists are all a bunch of “Luddites!” Give me a break!

    A Challenge to Gene Theory, a Tougher Look at Biotech


    Here is a link for many scientists, lawyers and doctors who have written of the dangers of GMOs:


    The companies in charge of our food supply deserve a closer look as well; here is a link to an article about Monsanto Company and the great things they did in Anniston, Alabama (poisoning the residents and lying about it for THIRTY YEARS!!!). Yeah, let’s have the folks who brought us Agent Orange and PCBs in charge of the world’s food supply! Fabulous idea!

    Monsanto’s PCBs to be here a long time The damage spreads beyond our borders


    Let’s allow the offspring from cloned animals into the food supply as well! Isn’t our nation rich enough so that we don’t have to resort to these measures? Why do we really need tomatoes with fish genes or corn with human genes? Oh, and what do these companies use as promoters for their new genes? Why viruses, that’s what! I just salivate thinking of my dinner tonight filled with viruses, bacteria and other species’ genes. Yum yum!

    Seriously, safety issues aside, this stuff is just gross, and I should not have to eat corn that is classified as a pesticide by the EPA or papaya that has a virus gene genetically modified into it. It’s like something from Soylent Green.

    Even the third world does not want the stuff. Zambia rejected GMO corn from the US years ago during a massive famine. THEY SAID THEY WOULD RATHER STARVE THAN ACCEPT IT!

    None of these organisms have been proven to be more nutritious (unless you eat twelve bowls a day of Golden Rice) or to increase yield. In fact, Monsanto had to pay millions to cotton farmers in Mississippi for loss of yield for Bt Cotton. On Molokai, Monsanto has used up more than 80% of the water for the entire island, and it is asking for more to be pumped. How is that helping the environment? Name one crop that has been commercialized that is drought resistant, yield increasing, or better tasting/more nourishing. The papaya industry in Hawaii is continuing to tumble due to the fact that Japan and the EU have strict regulations on GMOs. The crops may have survived, but if no one wants to buy them, what good are they?

    People around the world have been rejecting these organisms for as long as we have been eating them unknowingly, so it is not just a few hippies in the US who are concerned about them. If you want to trust scientist who work for a company with millions at stake if these foods are rejected, then you go ahead and eat your fish gene tomato or pesticide containing corn. I’ll buy those few items organic until we can get a labeling system in this country. Bon appetit!

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