Massachusetts legislator says Cornell GMO labeling study biased, uses ‘scare tactics’

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A recently released study pointing to increased food prices if manufacturers are forced to label genetically modified ingredients in food products has invigorated one lawmaker behind the push for so-called GMO labels to get legislation passed. The study, conducted by a professor from Cornell University and funded by the Council for Biotechnology Information, found that food costs for a family of four in the Northeast region could increase anywhere between $224 to $800 annually, with the average falling at $500.

The study, written by professor William Lesser, attributes higher food costs to increased labeling costs, warehousing additional items, and any costs supermarkets incur for stocking and tracking newly-labeled products. Lesser said the lower cost estimate is calculated if manufacturers label existing products containing GMOs, and the highest number incorporates possible changes in products to use only all organic ingredients.

Rep. Ellen Story, an Amherst Democrat who sponsored legislation requiring GMO food labels in Massachusetts, called the study biased, citing its funding source. The study specifically stated it did not take a position on whether or not foods should be labeled.

“My immediate reaction is this sounds like scare tactics,” Story told the News Service Tuesday.

Story said the research is based on a false assumption that manufacturers will try to reformulate their products using non-genetically modified ingredients to avoid the labels that some manufacturers fear will cause consumers not to buy a product.

“That’s absurd. They are not going to do that. What are they going to do, not use corn syrup? Corn syrup is in everything,” she said. “It is clearly a biased study.”

A majority of House and Senate members have pledged support for legislation requiring labels for foods containing genetically engineered ingredients. The bill has not surfaced for a vote in either the House or Senate with only 44 days remaining for controversial legislation to be considered in formal sessions. Lawmakers in Massachusetts are being pushed from both sides as proponents of labeling say consumers have a right to know what they are eating, while the food industry argues it is an unnecessary move and should only be dealt with at the federal level so the industry can work within a consistent policy.

Read the full, original article: Study of labeling costs ripped by lawmaker as “scare tactics”

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