The battle whether the foods should be labelled as being GMO or not continues and it is led in the media, state legislates, ballot referendums and federal courts which have been largely fomented and funded by the organic food and natural products industries. Each proposal has failed except Vermont’s and it is being challenged in a federal court. It is likely to be found unconstitutional. However the true believer and those with a financial stake soldier on.
There was a very inaccurate claim made by the proponents and it is that he costs of mandatory labeling would be minimal, for instance, there was an analysis released last year by a product-testing and advocacy group which claimed that the median cost of labeling would be $2.30 for one person each year, while there will be a broad range of estimates going from $0.32 to $15.01. One of the most tenacious anti-genetic engineering activist, Gary Hirshberg said that adding a few words to the ingredient panel will not have any impact on the price of the food.
The analysis of the Consumers Union made the wrong assumption as changes in nutritional labeling do incur a small one-time cost and that is the expense of printing a new label. However, it is far more complicated to show arriving at a “genetically modified” label revealing the technique that has been used to create the plant(s) from which food is derived. It is also expensive and difficult as crops will have to be kept strictly segregated to ensure compliance and minimize the potential for cross-contamination. All this is pointless, nevertheless, since GM is not a type of food, merely one produced with an arbitrary circumscribed collection of quite precise and predictable molecular techniques and is no more a meaningful category than all the kinds which can be assembled with a screwdriver.
This process is complex as both the genetically modified and certified GMO-free products require food processors in order to operate separate production runs and it costs much more than operating a single run, while the retail shelves are limited and the store managers do not want to stock several versions of the products that are virtually indistinguishable from one another, organic, certified non-GM and genetically modified.
GM ingredient labeling has been mandatory in EU countries and all foods which contain or derive from GM crop, excluding livestock products and it indicates that when food processors and retailers have been faced with these constraints they have avoided GM ingredients and started offering their consumers only certified non-GM and organic products. The EU markets resulted in having non-livestock-based foods that did not contain or derive from GM crops and the EU citizens deny the choice of consuming foods that contain or derive from GM crops, which are cheaper than the certified non-GM and organic alternatives. The labeling delivered less rather than more choice.
Labeling depends on many factors which include the fact whether the food manufacturers and retailers extend their GM-avoidance policy to meat, milk and eggs from animals that have been raised on GM crops. If these foods are avoided then it will mean forging the yield-enhancing and cost-reducing benefits of the technology which cause GM crop prices be lower than non-GM and organic crop prices.
There was an analysis by the Washington State Academy of Sciences concluded:
“Mandatory labeling, especially at a state versus federal level, is likely to affect trade and impose higher costs on firms producing and selling products in Washington. These costs are likely to be passed on to the consumer resulting in higher food prices. Importantly, these costs will be borne by firms and consumers for both GM and non-GM foods as labeling foods as non-GM will require oversight costs.”
The annual compliance costs were estimated to be $920 million per year and an additional cost to the state for enforcement and litigation. While an analysis from Cornell University of mandatory labelling in New York (2014) predicted that the cost of the food may raise by $800.00 each year for a 4-member family. Thus when all the relevant factors are taken into consideration the price tag of mandatory labeling in the US is higher than what the CU suggested in their analysis.
The organic agriculture and food advocate mandatory labeling and it is not surprising, and the resultant GM ingredient avoidance strategy by eliminating the GM alternative and making the certified non-GM alternative more expensive, potentially attracting more customers to organic products, exploiting the findings of a 2009 study which stated that “a change in relative prices will more likely induce consumers to ‘cross-over’ from buying conventional fruits to buying organic fruits, while it is less likely that organic consumers will ‘revert’ to buying conventional fruits.”
The producers, purveyors and supports of organic food as well as those who perform the genetically modified ingredients tests have spearheaded and funded the labeling initiatives in the US and they include the Organic Consumers Association, the Center for Food Safety and the Institute for Responsible Technology.
It has been said that he interests of any branch trade is always opposite than that of the public and in order to widen the market and narrow the competition, it is always the interest of the dealers. In order for the market to widen, it may be agreeable to the interest of the public, however, if they want to narrow the competition, they have to be against it, only serving to enable dealers by raising their profits above what they naturally will be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens. The tax is actually the huge premium which consumers pay for the organic products. So, mandatory labeling is complex, pernicious and costly undertaking and is neither necessary nor advantageous to the customers and the only ones who benefit is the organic sector.