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GE Labeling Would Cost Peanuts, New Study Finds

Monday, October 6, 2014

A recently released study by the economic consulting firm ECONorthwest concludes that requiring genetically engineered food to be labeled would cost Americans a mere $2.30 per person per year.

That’s less than a penny a day.

With enough time to comply with a labeling requirement, food producers and retailers would face only a minimal, one-time cost, the analysis showed.

The report was commissioned by Consumers Union, the advocacy and policy arm of Consumer Reports, to “resolve the apparent disagreement” between on how much food prices would increase if GE labeling were required.

It noted that food labels are regularly updated for regulatory and non-regulatory purposes, so with a long enough compliance period companies could incorporate GE labels at little to no cost and would not need to discard any products already in stores.

Moreover, given the competitiveness of the food industry, the $2.30 likely wouldn’t be passed on to consumers, the researchers said. This confirms earlier studies that have found that GE labeling would not come at a cost to consumers.

With polls showing overwhelming support for GE labeling in Oregon and Colorado, where voters will decide the issue in referendum votes in November, opponents of labeling are spending millions on campaigns aimed at misleading consumers into thinking that food prices will go through the roof.

The opponents cite studies predicting that GE labels could increase food costs by hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year, but ECONorthwest found that many of these conclusions are based on unsupported assumptions that consumers will drastically change their purchasing habits and that companies will reformulate their products to include only organic ingredients.

Those scenarios are both unlikely and impossible to accurately predict, ECONorthwest’s report said.

At EWG, we’re predicting that voters in Oregon and Colorado will recognize these scare tactics for what they are – the industry’s last-ditch effort to avoid telling consumers the truth about their food.

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