False Industry Claims Challenged in Run Up to November Ballot Initiatives in Oregon and Colorado
October 1, 2014--Today, ECONorthwest released a report on behalf of Consumers Union, the public policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, which assessed the potential for increased food prices if mandatory GE labeling requirements are adopted. The study concluded that the median cost of labeling in the studies that provided relevant models was $2.30 per person per year.
“It would amount to less than the cost of a gallon of milk,” said Rebecca Spector, West Coast director of Center for Food Safety who coordinates CFS’s state GE labeling work. “We are pleased that a fair, independent study was published to finally show that GE food labeling essentially adds no cost to consumers. GE labeling hasn’t raised the cost of food in any other country that has implemented labeling, so there’s no reason it should here in the U.S.,” she concluded.
Opponents of mandatory GE labeling frequently cite significantly higher food costs as part of their rationale, however, the higher numbers they reference are based on the assumption that manufacturers will incur costs by switching to non-GE ingredients. This is a false assumption and should not be equated with labeling costs. Such a move would be the result of market pressures, not labeling mandates.
In their executive summary, the researchers stated:
“Many studies consider possible market impacts (e.g., speculation regarding consumer behavioral changes), and other matters not directly related to the cost of designing and labeling a product as containing a GE ingredients. A number of these studies report estimates of food price impacts from scenarios in which companies subject to GE labeling requirements are assumed to reformulate their products to contain only organic ingredients. We did not consider such scenarios. Rather we approached the question as FDA did in its study of the cost impact of nutritional labeling. FDA states that its model does not consider reformulation costs as ‘they depend on marketing decisions and are impossible to predict. Moreover, they do not result directly from these proposed rules.’”
Center for Food Safety senior attorney George Kimbrell stated: “People want to know if their food has been genetically engineered for numerous reasons, all important: for example, because they have health concerns, since FDA does no testing of these foods; because they know GE crops cause harm to the environment, through massively increasing pesticides and other means; because they think the lack of labeling is deceptive; and because they believe they have the same right as people all over the world. They are right; they do have a right to know. And today’s exciting news is that it won’t cost them anything to get that information.”
64 countries around the world require GE food labeling and have not reported higher food costs as a result. Center for Food Safety supports the ballot initiatives to require GE food labeling in Oregon and Colorado, and has been an ardent supporter of the laws recently passed in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine.