America's consumer leaders have identified the environment, health insurance, product recycling, food labeling and auto insurance as the top five priority issues their organizations will work on, according to a survey of state and local consumer advocacy organizations.

The survey, conducted by The Haney Group, a consumer education and research organization, found that 65 percent of the groups said they would be working on conserving the environment, 49 percent on health insurance, 45 percent of product recycling, 44 percent on food labeling and 38 percent on auto insurance."There has been a dramatic shift toward concern from the environment among consumer organizations during the past three years," says Camille Haney, who has conducted consumer opinion leader research since 1975.

"While health care and related costs have been a priority consumer concern for the past decade, environmental issues were not among the top three concerns in 1987 when we conducted our last national survey. At that time there was a great deal of interest in financial service issues such as deregulation or credit interest rates, product liability and airline safety."

Who is doing a better - or worse - job of serving and protecting U.S. consumers today? According to the survey, national and local consumer organizations, the Environmental Protection Agency and the media get the highest marks. Domestic and foreign corporations, the Food and Drug Administration and State Legislatures get the worst.

When asked whether consumers today are better off or worse off than five years ago, 55 percent of the consumer leaders said "worse off," 26 percent said "about the same," and only 19 percent responded "better off."