A Cornell University study has found that public debate over food labeling carries considerable weight with consumers in their support of subsequent labeling decisions.
The study gave 450 participants four fictitious news articles about the same agro-food company’s decision to label the GM content of their products. The articles varied on four key points: whether or not to label the presence of ingredients grown from GM seeds, and whether or not the company considered the public’s input as part of their decision.
“People care about a process, even when they don’t get the decision that they want,” said study author Katherine McComas, professor and chair of the Department of Communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Having a fairer process can lead to a more acceptable or perceived legitimate outcome, and can improve discourse even around polarized decisions.”
Participants responded much more positively to either labeling decision when they believed the company had engaged with the public and used their input. Any decision to label was also received more favorably, regardless of how it was derived.
Source: Cornell University Media Relations Office. Transparency Key in Decision to Label Modified Ingredients.