May 7, 2014 — It looks like Vermont will be the first state to require mandatory labeling for genetically modified foods. But with more than two dozen other states considering similar legislation, it may not be the last. What impact is this trend having on consumers who enjoy dairy products?
“This is an important issue for us,” said IDFA’s Peggy Armstrong, who reported the following on today’s DairyLine Radio broadcast:
The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, which includes many respected scientific societies and professionals, reviewed the current debate on mandatory GMO labeling and concluded that legislators and consumers need independent, objective information to move the GMO conversation from contentious claims to a fact-based dialogue.
In a study released last week, the authors found that current labeling measures provide consumers with non-GMO choices and that mandatory labeling would raise food costs. The study found that non-GMO and organic food are more expensive to produce because of lower yields, higher production costs, segregation costs and various testing, certification and traceability costs. It showed that U.S. consumers paid 120 percent more for organic ice cream. And that organic fruits and vegetables averaged 50 percent to 100 percent higher prices than conventional foods during 2012 and 2013.
The authors noted that no material differences in composition or safety of GMO crops have been identified that would justify a label based on the modified nature of the food.
“All domesticated crops and animals have been genetically modified in some way, whether through conventional breeding techniques or biotechnology. Worldwide scientific evidence shows that both types of breeding are equally safe,” it said.
What is the impact on dairy?
In many, but not all, of the state-proposed labeling initiatives, dairy has received exemptions, including milk derived from animals that have eaten GMO feed or been treated with GMO therapeutics. However, added sweeteners, flavorings and food products with dairy as an ingredient, would fall under most mandatory labeling requirements.
IDFA agrees with the scientists that state-mandated rules would create confusion, reduce choices and increase costs for consumers. We oppose state GMO labeling and supports federal legislation recently introduced that would set guidelines for voluntary GMO labeling.