Another myth – labeling GMO foods is not expensive

One of the goals of the anti-GMO gangs is to push labeling of food products that contain anything that is considered to be genetically modified. They have sought out laws for food labeling in various ways, including propositions and legislation.

Generally, these efforts have been a failure in the USA, except in Vermont, Maine and Connecticut, although each may be or has been subject to judicial review. And there is a strong possibility that these labeling laws will probably be found unconstitutional.

Even California, one of the most liberal states in the USA, rejected GMO labeling in a popular vote on Proposition 37 in 2012. Ironically, Proposition 37 received strong financial and person support from noted pseudoscience-pushing, anti-vaccination shill, Joe Mercola.

Even recently, Gary Hirshberg, one of the most loud-mouthed anti-GMO activists, repeated the myth  in an August 2015 op-ed: “adding a few words to the ingredient panel. . . would have no impact on the price of food.”

Given that there is little evidence that GMOs are dangerous, given that that there is a strong scientific consensus on the safety and usefulness of GMOs, and given that GMOs are an important technology for the future of humanity, it’s an odd argument that we need to label foods as to their GMO content.

Let me be clear. Food labeling is critical, and it must get better. Diabetics need accurate information about food content to adjust their diet and insulin use. Ironically, people with real gluten sensitivities (extremely rare) have benefited mightily from “gluten free” product labeling, which resulted from the myth of gluten sensitivities pushed by pseudoscience.

Given the scientific facts regarding the safety of GMOs, labeling is ridiculous.

Because the anti-GMO forces know they can’t win on the science, they have begun pushing labeling because they say that it does not add costs to food. Some of them claim that, in the USA, the cost of labeling is less than a penny a day.

Gary Hirshberg, one of the most loud-mouthed anti-GMO activists, repeated the myth  in an August 2015 op-ed: “adding a few words to the ingredient panel. . . would have no impact on the price of food.”

Even though the science says they are wrong, many ask “why not allow labeling, especially if it’s not that expensive.”

Because that claim – that labeling GMO foods is not expensive  – only accounts for the direct cost of labeling, not anything else. And it’s wrong, economically.

The anti-GMO gang exclusively focuses on only two points with regards to labeling – that the cost of changing the labels is small, and that consumer behavior probably won’t change. Most of their beliefs about costs are based on cherry picked studies (pdf), which are worth approximately nothing to a real scientific skeptic

The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor

Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!


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  • Ben Fairbanks

    “since when have “environmentalists” helped corporations make more money?” They’ve helped big corporations such as Whole Foods and Stonyfield Farms make money hand over fist by hyping mediocre, overpriced goods.

  • medicalpeereview

    Gosh, you make mountains out of complete bollocks. It is simple – if they put a label on a product saying it is GMO food, I won’t be buying it! How can it be unconstitutional to tell us this? Sounds like the vaccine boys have been playing with the weasel words here – you know – similar naughty memetrope about vaccine placebo trials not being ethical.

    • Ben Fairbanks

      It may be unconstitutional because the government would be compelling speech without a genuine public interest. GMOs are not ciggies. They don’t cause cancer or have any other health consequence that differs from their conventional counterparts. The 1st amendment protects businesses from capricious mandates on their freedom of expression. If you don’t want to buy GMOs, look for the butterfly (non-GMO project). The onus to inform you that they have yet to accept 20th century technology is now, and should be, on the company that wishes to imbue their product with some phony patina of health consciousness. Don’t insist that my own food bill subsidize your arbitrary, philosophical eating decisions.

      • medicalpeereview

        Sorry Ben, GMO is new on the scene so the obligation to prove safety etc. is on them and the companies that want to push that agenda. But that is irrelevant really, the case for GMO has never been made beyond appeals to emotion and straw fallacies about saving the world from starvation.

        The world has enough food, it is logistics transportation, dealing with dodgy regimes and storage that is the issue. If the money, that has been wasted on the GMO fallacy, was spent on sanitation and logistical infrastructure the GMO issue would be dead in the water, literally.

        Stuff the 1st amendment or the 2nd, is that the one that allows school kids to buy weapons of mass destruction and vent their junk food spleens on innocent people at Wall Mart? Since when did corporations need ‘protection’ from concerned citizens! You have been watching too many judge dred movies.