One of the biggest issues in the battle to label genetically modified foods comes via pushback from the biotech and big food industries. A scare tactic they’ve relied heavily on—and successfully shut down ballot initiatives in California and Washington with—is telling voters that GMO labeling will drive up the cost of foods significantly. But that simply isn’t true says Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports.
The group conducted an independent research study on what the cost of GMO labeling would be to consumers, and the results were in stark contrast to suggestions made by the anti-labeling community. According to Consumers Union’s findings, the total cost per person would amount to a whopping $2.30 annually.
“That’s less than a penny a day for each consumer—a tiny fraction of the cost estimates put out by industry and certainly a very small price to pay for consumers’ right to know if their food has been genetically engineered,” Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union said in a statement.
The report comes out just a month before Oregon voters go to the polls to decide on Measure 92, a ballot initiative that would require mandatory GMO labeling in the state. Consumers Union says it strongly supports the initiative. “Given the minimal cost to consumers, the increased herbicide use involved in growing almost all genetically engineered crops, as well as the failure of government to require human safety assessments before genetically engineered foods reach the marketplace, GMO labeling is well worth it,” Halloran said. “Companies change their labeling all the time and with GMO labeling costing so little, it is likely some producers won’t even bother to pass the minimal increase on to consumers.”
According to the group, the biotech and big food companies opposing GMO labeling have made claims that the law would “force farmers and food producers to spend ‘millions’ and increase food costs for consumers.” Some estimates have deceptively suggested that a family of four would be paying close to $800 annually in higher food costs.
“Industry cost estimates incorporate unrealistic assumptions about how GMO labeling requirements will drive food producers to switch to all organic ingredients, which would be much more expensive. However, there is no factual basis for this assumption and we believe producers will continue to sell GMO foods once they are labeled, and many consumers will continue to buy them, with no discernible price impact,” asserted Halloran. “Measure 92 simply requires foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled so that consumers can make an informed choice.”
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