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New Consumer Reports study finds GMOs in many common food products

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


New Consumer Reports Study Finds GMOs in Many Common Food Products;

More than 70 Percent of American Don’t Want GMOs in Their Food

Oregon Labeling Initiative Gives Consumers Needed Information

Portland, OR, October 7—New Consumer Reports tests of packaged-food items containing corn or soy found that genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are present in many common products including breakfast cereals, chips, and infant formula. Some carry labels like “natural,” suggesting that they don’t have these controversial ingredients.  A recent survey of 1,000 American adults conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center showed that a majority of people–64 percent–mistakenly equate “natural” with no GMOs. The same survey also showed that nearly three-quarters of all Americans are seeking foods produced without genetically modified organisms.

“Measure 92 would enable Oregonians to know which foods were engineered and which were not when they visit the supermarket,” said Michael Hansen, Ph.D. senior scientist with Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, speaking to media in Portland, Oregon.

Voting on Oregon Measure 92, which would require labeling of genetically engineered food, begins October 17.

“It shouldn’t take a major national study to learn that certain cereals and chips and even some products labeled as ‘natural’ actually contain GMOs,” said David Rosenfeld, executive director of the consumer group OSPIRG (Oregon State Public Interest Research Group).  “We need mandatory labeling of products, and Oregon has a chance to make that happen by voting YES on Measure 92,” he said.

Recent ads opposing Measure 92 claim that thousands of foods with GMOs will not be labeled under Measure 92, citing meat and dairy products raised on GMO feed and alcoholic beverages.

“These statements are very misleading,” stated Hansen.  “Genetically engineered meat and dairy products would in fact have to be labeled.  But eating GMO feed does not make an animal engineered.  All of us have probably eaten some GMO food and we’re not engineered.  If an actual genetically engineered animal does come on the market, like the transgenic salmon that is currently pending at FDA, Measure 92 would definitely require it to be labeled.” He added, “As for alcoholic beverages, they are not a food.”

Hansen continued, “Given the pervasiveness of GMOs in packaged foods, the drastic increase in herbicide use resulting from growing these crops, and the fact that our federal government, unlike other countries, does not require a premarket safety assessment, we think labeling is important and support Measure 92.”  More than 60 foreign countries already require labeling of genetically engineered food, and Vermont recently passed such legislation.

Additionally, a recent analysis commissioned by Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, and conducted by the independent Portland-based economic research firm, ECONorthwest, found from a review of published research that the median cost to consumers of requiring labeling of genetically engineered food, also known as genetically modified (or GMO) food, is $2.30 per person annually. That puts costs at less than a penny a day for each consumer — a tiny fraction of the cost estimates suggested by labeling opponents. The report on labeling costs is available online here.

Results of the Consumer Reports Study

Consumer Reports wanted to see how many foods contain GMOs, and whether or not people could rely on packaging claims that suggest there are no GMOs in certain products. The organization bought more than 80 different processed foods containing corn or soy, two of the most widely grown genetically engineered crops in the U.S. It tested at least two samples of each product – each sample from a different lot – to measure GMO content. Finally, it compared the test findings with product claims to determine which ones were valid, and which ones were not. The products were purchased between April and July 2014.

In order for a product to qualify as non-GMO it had to have no more than 0.9% genetically modified corn or soy. In the European Union, ingredients that are greater than 0.9% GMO must be labeled as such.

Because Consumer Reports tests represented only a small slice of the market, conclusion can’t be drawn about all products containing corn or soy, or about every product for a given brand.

The full GMO report is available at ConsumerReports.org.




Tim Marvin/415-572-0040      tmarvin@consumer.org

Naomi Starkman/917-539-3924    nstarkman@gmail.com