Citing increased demand for food and beverage products that do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as ingredients, the March 2015 issue of Consumer Reports magazine features an article intended to help consumers “sift through the facts” about the purported health and environmental effects of GMOs. The column describes recent attempts by individual states to require GMO labeling, as well as voluntary “Non-GMO Project Verified” certification programs. It claims that “the vast majority of corn, soy, canola, and sugar beets grown in the U.S. are now genetically engineered” even though the Food and Drug Administration does not follow the joint safety assessment guidelines established by the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization.
“In an interesting twist, some food companies that expressed strong opposition to such mandatory labeling are the same ones turning out new non-GMO products,” opines Consumer Reports. “Those in favor of mandatory labels—including Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports—argue that even if the jury is still out on the health impact of GMOs, shoppers have a right to know what’s in their food.”
The article concludes that mandatory labeling schemes would add “less than a penny a day” to most grocery bills, dismissing studies that put the estimated cost increase for a family of four at $400 to $800 per year. As Consumer Reports argues, “[I]n countries where GMO labeling is required—including many where American food companies sell their products—food prices haven’t increased as a result of mandatory labeling. And as our recent GMO testing showed, food products don’t have to contain all-organic ingredients to qualify as non-GMO.”