Organic Consumers Association

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Will Prop 37 (GMO Labeling) Really Raise Food Prices?

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's California News page, Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

"Get the facts" encourages the Coalition Against the Deceptive Food Labeling Scheme (CADFLS), a corporate front group that is flooding California will millions of dollars aimed at defeating Proposition 37, the ballot initiative that will require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. Genetically engineered foods, also known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), are foods produced from plants that have had genes from other species inserted into their DNA in order to confer a specific trait.

According to CADFLS, the "facts" are as follows:

 "Proposition 37 would ban the sale of tens of thousands of perfectly-safe, common grocery products only in California unless they are specially repackaged, relabeled or made with higher cost ingredients. Prop 37 is a deceptive, deeply flawed food labeling scheme that would add more government bureaucracy and taxpayer costs, create new frivolous lawsuits, and increase food costs by billions - without providing any health or safety benefits."

Increase food costs by billions! Really? No, not really. But one must congratulate the PR geniuses who wrote the above statement for their artful use of many buzzwords that Americans hate - "ban," "higher cost," "government bureaucracy," "frivolous lawsuits," etc. The $26 million and counting the food industry has poured into the Prop 37 fight has certainly bought the best PR staff that money can buy.

Unfortunately, money cannot buy them facts to support such outrageous statements. Not that they did not try. CADFLS partially funded a study by two UC-Davis professors, and the study concluded that mandatory labeling of GE foods would result in increased food prices for consumers and more than $1 billion in increased costs for food processors. How can this be, that simply slapping an additional label on food packages could be so expensive?

The conclusion rests on an assumption that American consumers will not buy GE foods if they are labeled and that food manufacturers will substitute non-GE ingredients in order to avoid the need for labeling. And yes, if such an enormous, disruptive shift in the food supply took place, no doubt it would be costly. But where's the evidence that manufacturers will suddenly eschew GE foods once labeling becomes mandatory? 

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