We frequently address issues relating to litigation over products advertised as “all natural” or containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. As interest in GMOs has grown (along with related litigation), an initiative known as GMO Answers has published new survey results identifying consumers’ top 10 questions about GMOs. GMO Answers is funded by the members of The Council for Biotechnology Information, which includes several major consumer products companies.
A global market research company conducted a random, national telephone survey of over 1,000 Americans, in which those surveyed were given a list of 23 questions, then asked: “The following are questions some people have asked about GMOs. Which of the following questions around the use of GMOs would you be most interested in having answered?”
The top 10 questions are:
|1. If GMOs cause cancer|
|2. If GMOs are causing an increase in allergies|
|3. If big companies are forcing farmers to grow GMOs|
|4. If GMOs are increasing the price of food|
|5. If GMOs are contaminating organic food crops|
|6. Why long-term health studies aren’t conducted on GMO plants|
|7. If GMOs are causing an increase in the use of pesticides|
|8. Why GMO companies seem like they are so against labeling GMO foods|
|9. If GMOs are contributing to the death of bees and butterflies|
|10. If livestock eat genetically modified grain, will there be GMOs in my meat|
Over the next few weeks, scientists and other experts will be answering these questions on GMO Answers’ web site and via social media.
What’s the takeway for companies selling products with GMOs? Pay attention to consumers’ questions. They’re your customers. They’re also your potential adversaries in litigation, if you don’t disclose arguably material facts. If appropriate, consider addressing issues about which your customers might be concerned in your advertising or labeling. Lawsuits over “all natural” products or products containing GMOs usually involve claims of deception, that the consumer didn’t know this or that about the product. You can get in front of this risk and minimize the chances that someone can accuse you of misleading them by disclosing facts about which they’re curious.