GMO QR codes may never take off

USDA qr code labels GMO food organic

A recent study showed that the majority of consumers aren’t interested in scanning for more information.

A new poll has found that most consumers aren’t likely to scan GMO QR codes to learn more about their foods. The research looked into the scannable codes which may soon be used to identify products containing genetically modified organisms among their ingredients.

Among the respondents, only 40 percent said they would be willing to scan quick response codes for this information.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center from the University of Pennsylvania conducted this study with the Rutgers University department of human ecology. They showed that fewer than half of Americans would use GMO QR codes to learn about product ingredients. Another 21 percent specifically said they probably would not use the quick response codes. Moreover, 38 percent said they definitely would not scan.

This lack of interest in using GMO QR codes could prove very problematic to the new food labeling regulations.

GMO qr codes food organicRutgers professor, William Hallman, a visiting scholar at the university, explained that if quick response codes were utilized to provide consumers with a greater amount of information beyond a food’s GMO status – for example the history of that food in terms of where the ingredients were grown – there may be greater interest in scanning.

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This QR code insight is highly relevant at the moment as it comes on the heels of a bill signed into law in July. That law required the labeling of foods with GMO ingredients. That said, manufacturers were allowed to notify consumers of GMO status through several means. One of those means is through QR code scans.

Hallman said, “QR codes have the potential to be a gateway to more than just whether a product contains GM ingredient.” He also pointed out that if the industry moves forward with quick response codes, consumers might see greater value in them if they could scan for a larger amount of information.

It is currently estimated that 80 percent of packaged foods sold in the U.S. contain at least one GMO ingredient. That said, without labeling such as the GMO QR codes and certain industry approved symbols, consumers don’t have any convenient and accurate way of knowing which ones.

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