Products containing genetically modified ingredients would have to disclose that information on the back of the package near the nutritional facts under
Products containing genetically modified ingredients would have to disclose that information on the back of the package near the nutritional facts under Vermont s bill. (Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger)

MONTPELIER -- The back of the package is the best place for a GMO label, according survey results released last week by the Attorney General's Office, but the results show that consumers differed with the food industry on how large the label should be.

The Attorney General's Office conducted the survey as part of its rule-making process for Vermont's law requiring manufacturers and retailers to label certain food products containing genetically modified ingredients starting in 2016.

The questionnaire was open from June 4 through June 30 and received more than 2,200 responses. The respondents represent a range of the food economy - from farmers to consumers - and the majority were Vermonters.

More than half of the respondents asked where to locate the label said on the back of the package near the list of ingredients. About one-third of consumers responding to the survey said the label should be on the front of the package.

Forty-four percent of the respondents want the print to be the same as the "Nutrition Facts" label. Twenty-eight percent of respondents identifying as distributors, farmers or processors preferred the label to be the size of the "Calories" label.

Nearly three-quarters of consumers say these product labels should not include a disclaimer stating that GMO foods are not harmful for human consumption according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Retailers, distributors, farmers and processors were about split on whether to include the disclaimer.

Retailers will also be required by law to label non-packaged foods - such as lettuce - and bulk items - such as granola and coffee. Retailers said the easiest place to locate these labels is on signs identifying the products and/or the products' price.

The Attorney General's Office used its subscription to the online tool SurveyMonkey to gauge views on the GMO law. The results are not intended to be scientific and no conclusions will be drawn from the survey, according to Todd Daloz, an assistant attorney general.

The Attorney General's Office is required to draft the rules for the new law.

Trade groups representing the food, beverage and grocery industry are challenging the Vermont law. The Attorney General's Office has until Aug. 8 to respond to the lawsuit.