The results are from a Consumer Link poll, which was commissioned by the Sustainability Council of New Zealand, conducted from 8 to 14 November this year across a sample of 500 consumers.
Under the current regulations, food products retailed in the country that have more than 1% GM content require to be labelled clearly as GM foods.
The survey comes under the backdrop of the part of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) under which the US government has publicly said that it considered GM labelling a trade barrier it would like to see removed.
The TPPA is a free trade agreement that includes nations on both sides of the Pacific including Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, the US, Australia, Peru, and Vietnam.
However, Katherine Rich, chief executive of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council (NZFGC), told FoodNavigator-Asia that the survey results were misleading.
“If anything the number who remain vehemently opposed to GM has decreased over the years as greater number of citizens become more informed, understand the benefits and realize that scaremongering years ago was unfounded,” she said.
Rich pointed out that issue of GM labelling or discussions about changing the rules haven't been raised within the NZFGC by its members, and it is evident that there is no need for it as the volume of these products on sale is very low.
“There is just no consumer demand for GM products here and so far there have been no products with any demonstrable benefit launched in NZ. We have a few obscure products available, but no high volume products that utilize GM,” she said.
Rich remarked that groups in New Zealand have tried to make GM an election issue [New Zealand went to polls on November 26], but that decision-makers and voters had more on their minds such as the slowing economy, and jobs.