Most Hawaii voters support labeling food that contains genetically modified ingredients, according to a new Civil Beat poll.
The survey revealed 65 percent of registered voters who took the survey think there should be a requirement for GMO labeling, compared with 24 percent of respondents who disagree.
Eleven percent of those surveyed said they weren’t sure.
There was little difference across age, ethnicity, gender and even political leaning, except Republicans were less supportive of GMO labeling.
Civil Beat’s pollster said that the results reveal that across the board, voters think more information is good.
GMO demonstrators on the first floor of the Capitol building during Opening Day of this year’s legislative session.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
“The most interesting thing about it is the uniformity of opinion,” said Matthew Fitch, executive director of the Merriman River Group. “What you’re seeing is public opinion coalesce. It’s very unusual to see that.”
State lawmakers have so far shrugged off proposals to label GMO food in Hawaii. Senate Bill 131 passed the Senate Health Committee but didn’t receive a hearing from committees led by Sens. Rosalyn Baker and Jill Tokuda.
Locally, county governments have been trying to impose more regulations on GMO farming in response to residents’ concerns about pesticide use. Maui County residents voted last fall to temporarily ban GMO farming, and are fighting a legal challenge by Monsanto and Dow Agrosciences.
The survey of 780 registered voters was conducted April 7-9 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.
The question posed was, “Do you think there should be a requirement for foods containing GMOs to be labeled?”
While most people said yes, there was stronger support among women than men.
Seventy-two percent of women surveyed thought foods containing GMO should be labeled, compared with just 59 percent of men.
It didn’t seem to matter whether respondents were young or old, white or Japanese. Even 65 percent of people who self-identified as conservative supported labeling, compared with 75 percent of liberals.
Republicans stood out as the least in favor of GMO labeling. Only 45 percent of Republicans supported mandatory labeling, with 43 percent against it. In contrast, 70 percent of Democrats want labeling, with only 18 percent opposed.
Support for labeling decreased slightly as incomes went up. Only 60 percent of people earning $100,000 or more supported GMO labeling compared with 76 percent of people earning less than $50,000.
Over 70 percent of residents on Maui and Kauai were in favor of GMO labeling. In comparison, just under two-thirds of Oahu residents were supportive. Still, it was a strong majority.
“This seems to be an issue that’s moving off the table into an area of consensus,” Fitch said. “It’s very clear: Hawaii voters want GMO labeling.”