Corn Refiners Study Drastically Overstates GMO Labeling Impact on Cost

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Consumers Union: Corn Refiners Study Drastically Overstates GMO Labeling Impact on Cost

WASHINGTON, DC – Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, today pushed back on a new study released by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) on the impact of Vermont’s GMO labeling law on food costs, saying that the industry-funded study drastically overstates the laws impact on food prices. An analysis of existing studies of the cost of labeling commissioned by Consumers Union and conducted by the independent economic research firm ECONorthwest found that the median cost that might be passed on to consumers was just $2.30 per person annually, less than a penny a day – more than a thousand dollars less per year than the CRA study estimate.

“This new study, like previous industry-funded studies, makes a number of unreasonable assumptions to come to its conclusions, including the idea that companies will reformulate all their products to remove GE ingredients. There is simply no basis for these assumptions,” said Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives for Consumers Union. “The fact is that GMO labeling would have a negligible impact on food prices. Campbell’s is moving towards labeling GMOs and has said they don’t plan to raise their products’ prices. This is yet another scare tactic by the food and biotech industries to keep consumers in the dark about what’s in their food.”

Consumers Union called on Senators to oppose draft legislation introduced last week by Agriculture Committee Chairman Roberts that would preempt state GMO labeling laws and direct USDA to develop standards for voluntary labeling and promote biotechnology. The legislation, supported by biotech giants and some of the country’s largest food companies, would block a Vermont law, set to go into effect July 1, which would require labeling on the packaging of genetically engineered food sold in the state.

The consumer group panned the bill, saying it tramples on the ability of states to respond to the request of their citizens and would create a duplicative and unnecessary set of voluntary standards.

Halloran said, “This bill would squash consumers’ right to know what is in their food, and trample on the ability of states to respond to consumers’ needs. Moreover, FDA has already issued guidelines for voluntary labeling. Why should USDA be charged with redoing what FDA has already completed? What we need is work on national mandatory labeling standards that all consumers can see on food packaging, not more work on voluntary standards.”

Consumers Union posted a blog today disputing the new study. Consumers can also visit ConsumersUnion.org/RightToKnow to learn more or find out how to contact their Senator.

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Contact:  David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org or Kara Kelber, kara.kelber@consumer.org202-462-6262