Food prices

As momentum picks up in Washington State over I-522, a bill that could mandate labeling of all foods containing GMOs, new research indicates there would be no price increases to consumers.

One of the biggest and most successful tactics used by biotech and big food companies to kill GMO labeling initiatives has been the suggestion that to do so would drive up food costs. It was one of the main strategies that helped to kill Proposition 37, a bill proposed in California that many thought would pass last November. (It failed by a narrow margin.) But an independent study released by the Just Label It campaign found “no evidence connecting changes in food labels to supermarket prices,” the organization noted in a press release.

Conducted by food marketing expert Kai Robertson, the study [PDF] looked at the driving factors that influence retail food prices. “Food processors regularly make changes to the labels of their products – as part of ongoing product innovation to anticipate and meet changing consumer demands and for other marketing and regulatory reasons,” Robertson wrote. “There are no studies that document the impact of changes to a product’s label on prices charged by supermarkets.”

The Just Label It campaign, which is a coalition of 650 organizations seeking mandatory labeling of genetically modified food, has also made the same conclusion as Robertson that food prices would not be impacted by either state or federal legislation on GMO labeling.

“Food manufacturers are constantly refreshing their labels to highlight new innovations, so simply adding the words “may contain genetically engineered ingredients” to the back of the package will not add to the cost of making food,” said Scott Faber, Executive Director for Just Label It and formerly Vice President of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: XiXiDu