Study: Consumers unlikely to scan codes for GMOs

Study: Consumers unlikely to scan codes for GMOs

A plurality of Americans say it's either somewhat or highly unlikely they’d use their smartphone or an in-store scanner to find out if a product contains genetically modified ingredients, according to a new survey out Wednesday.

The Annenberg Science Knowledge survey, conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania and the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers University, comes less than a week after President Obama signed a controversial GMO labeling bill into law.

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The law requires the Agriculture secretary to draft a national labeling standard within two years that allows companies to use text, a symbol or QR code, which can be scanned or read by a smartphone, to meet the new labeling requirement.

Critics claim the law discriminates against consumers who don’t have a smartphone or access to the internet — typically low-income, elderly and minority people.

Of the 1,011 adults surveyed from July 21 to 25, 21 percent said it is not too likely that they would use a smartphone or in-store scanner to find out if a product contains GMOs, and 38 percent say that it is not likely at all.

But the survey found that 29 percent of Americans have already used their mobile phone or a store scanner to scan a UPC or QR code to find the price of a product or to check out at a store in the past 12 months, and 15 percent say they have used a code to find information about a product’s ingredients or nutrition information. 

Still, more Americans surveyed said that they would be much less likely, 31 percent, or somewhat less likely, 18 percent, to purchase a food product if they learned that it contained genetically modified ingredients. 

The phone survey, conducted for the APPC by research firm SSRS, has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.