Consumer Reports claims mandatory GMO labels won’t raise food prices, ignoring research

Opponents of GE labeling laws cite high labeling costs from some published studies. Consumers Union and other labeling proponents cite studies that conclude labeling requirements impose low costs on consumers. Consumers Union asked ECONorthwest to help resolve the apparent disagreement by independently reviewing, comparing, and summarizing published research regarding labeling costs.

We used our expertise in economics to compile existing research presented in academic and other publications relevant to the qustion of GE labeling costs. Collected studies include assessments of the cost impact of state ballot initiatives similar to Oregon’s Ballot Measure 92, and the European Union’s GE labeling regime, as well as the United States Food and Drug Administration labeling cost model, and academic studies of the global impacts of GE agricultural products. We found some studies on the economics of GE agricultural products but relatively few that address costs directly related to developing and applying GE labels. We reviewed the studies with models relevant to the requirements of Oregon Ballot Measure 92.

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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.”

We concluded that the median cost of labeling in the studies that provided relevant models was $2.30 per person per year.

Full report can be found here:
GE foods labeling cost study findings

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