As of January 2009, you will now be able to purchase and consume products from genetically engineered animals - without one mention of that fact on the label. Whether you welcome or dread your first GE dish, we all have one thing in common--we won't know when we eat it. Our friends at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have decided that products from genetically engineered animals will not be labeled as such. The FDA says that it will not require labeling of products from genetically engineered animals because those products are not "materially different" from conventional ones. Ironically this ruling follows a recent Consumers Union poll which found that 95% of respondents favored labeling of milk and meat from genetically engineered animals. A spokeswoman for the FDA defended its decision, stating, "...the FDA doesn't require that a pork chop label specify [the breeding method of the pig]." Translation: the FDA has decided genetic engineering is just another way to breed animals and therefore, it doesn't make the meat, eggs or dairy from those animals any different from the meat, eggs or dairy out of grandma's barnyard.
Concerns about food safety, the environment and farm animal welfare are prompting increasing numbers of consumers to seek out ethically produced food, including meat, dairy and eggs from humanely raised animals, even if it means paying more. A new survey from San Francisco-based Context Marketing shows that almost 70 percent of American food shoppers are willing to pay more for food that is safe, humane and environmentally sound.
Education, consumer advocacy and lifting the veil from the practices of industrialized agriculture are transforming shopping habits. Despite industry efforts, concern for farm animal welfare is gaining significant strength. The study finds that the importance of animals being humanely raised is exceeded only by food safety concerns, and animal welfare scores well above “natural” and “organically produced.” Consumers who have grown up more aware of how food is produced are intensifying the demand for meat, dairy and eggs from humanely raised animals: Forty-four percent of shoppers aged 20 to 34 always look for cage-free eggs.
Americans are also turning to labels like Animal Welfare Approved to help them make purchasing decisions; the report finds that ethical claims help consumers identify high quality, safe and humane foods. When credible and relevant, ethical claims also help consumers form deeper emotional connections with brands. Overall, 58 percent of shoppers are more willing to take the time to learn about ethically produced food brands while 44 percent stopped buying a product when the company producing it acted in an unethical way. Forty-two percent are more loyal to more ethically produced food brands.
The report only tells us what we have seen on the ground for a long time— more and more people care about what they eat and they aren’t willing to compromise. AWA believes that informed consumers are our best allies and we are committed to remaining a label that consumers can trust. Check our database to find meat, dairy and eggs that live up your expectations of being good for animals, people and the planet.