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USA - Exploring the GMO narrative through labeling: strategies, products, and politics


Feb 29, 2024

Labels are influential signals in the marketplace intended to inform and to eliminate buyer confusion. Despite this, food labels continue to be the subject of debate. None more so than non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) labels. This manuscript provides a timeline of the evolution of GMO labels beginning with the early history of the anti-GMO movement to the current National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard in the United States. Using media and market intelligence data collected through Buzzsumo™ and Mintel™, public discourse of GMOs is analyzed in relation to sociopolitical events and the number of new food products with anti-GMO labels, respectively. Policy document and publication data is collected with Overton™ to illustrate the policy landscape for the GMO topic and how it has changed over time. Analysis of the collective data illustrates that while social media and policy engagement around the topic of GMOs has diminished over time, the number of new products with a GMO-free designation continues to grow. While discourse peaked at one point, and has since declined, our results suggest that the legacy of an anti-GMO narrative remains firmly embedded in the social psyche, evidenced by the continuing rise of products with GMO-free designation. Campaigns for GMO food labels to satisfy consumers’ right to know were successful and the perceived need for this information now appears to be self-sustaining.

Author(s):  Ryan, C.D., Henggeler, E., Gilbert, S., Schaul, A. J.  & Swarthout, J.T

Published in: Biotechnology in Agriculture and the Food Chain

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