Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Monday 04/28/14

CAST Report Rejects Arguments to Label Biotech Foods

The Council on Agricultural Science and Technology released a report Monday questioning the value or need to label food produced with genetically-engineered crops.

The paper concludes there is no scientific reason to label foods because of biotech crops. Doing so "abandons the traditional U.S. practice of providing for consumer food preferences through voluntary product differentiation and labeling." Moreover, there are already market efforts to provide consumers with labels for products that do not use genetically-engineered crops. Mandatory labels would increase food costs and also have negative implications for trade and free speech, the CAST paper states.

The CAST paper dismisses the main argument from labeling proponents: the public's right to know what is in their food.

The analysis comes on the heels of a vote last week in the Vermont Legislature to adopt mandatory labels for foods with ingredients from biotech crops. Vermont could become the first ate to implement a biotech-labeling regimen. Connecticut and Maine also have adopted labeling laws that also could go into effect but they have caveats such as requiring border states or nearby states with a collective population of more than 20 million people to adopt similar legislation as well.

The analysis expects that state laws will likely be challenged in court regarding preemption of federal authority and possible violation of the First Amendment.

Authors of the study note that mandatory labeling would negatively affect food companies. The desire to avoid a GE or GMO label would prompt at least some food companies to switch to other non-biotech ingredients. Studies also are all over the map regarding just how much such labeling would cost.

A bill in Congress introduced earlier this month would ensure there would be no labeling of food with biotech products unless the Food and Drug Administration determines a need to label a specific food product. That bill, however, has only five congressmen signed on as sponsors.

It should be noted that CAST is largely funded by agricultural organizations and companies that oppose mandatory labeling of food from biotech crops.

The full CAST report can be read at…

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Posted at 9:45AM CDT 04/28/14 by Chris Clayton
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