WASHINGTON - (May 8, 2014) Today, Vermont Governor Pete Shumlin is expected to sign into law H112, which will mandate labeling of foods produced with genetic engineering that are sold in Vermont. In response, Val Giddings, Senior Fellow with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) issues the following statement:
"This action by the state of Vermont is irresponsible and advances an unnecessary policy driven by fear mongering that flies in the face of facts and logic. This bill will undermine, not increase, food safety, transparency and consumer choice, while creating regulations that will be difficult or impossible to enforce. It will also reduce the availability of affordable, quality food by discriminating against the most efficient and sustainable agricultural technologies available. In addition, food manufacturers will have to spend extra money to label foods just for Vermont consumers which will impose additional costs on all Americans.
Arguments that labels are required because GMO foods are unsafe are based on an anti-technology ideology not on science. There is an overwhelming, global consensus on the safety of biotech improved crops and foods. Even the European Union has concluded that 'the use of more precise technology and the greater regulatory scrutiny probably make [GM foods] even safer than conventional plants and foods.'
Claims that labels are needed to improve consumer knowledge are also unfounded. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that since genetic modification, in and of itself, does not impact the safety or nutrition of a food labels specifically designed to denote genetic modification are unnecessary. There are also numerous programs already in place, including the USDA Organic label and the NonGMO Project, that provide information to consumers who wish to avoid eating foods improved with biotechnology.
Since biotech opponents have failed to ban GMOs outright they are now turning to state labeling campaigns to roll back use of GM foods. Leading anti-GM advocate Andrew Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety has stated publicly that 'we are going to force them to label this food. If we have it labeled, then we can organize people not to buy it.'
These advocates willfully overlook the fact that GM foods have been principally responsible for increasing abundance and reducing the overall price of food. In fact, organic foods generally cost between 20 and 100 percent more than non-organics. By imposing their own elite interests on the rest of Americans, anti-GMO advocates' campaign for labeling will end up raising food costs for tens of millions of Americans.
To protect the environmental benefits, food abundance and lower prices that have been delivered by seeds and crops improved through biotechnology, policymakers need to reject this special interest rent-seeking, support efforts to repeal the Vermont legislation and roll back attempts to pass similar bills in additional states."
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank whose mission is to formulate and promote public policies to advance technological innovation and productivity internationally, in Washington, and in the states. Recognizing the vital role of technology in ensuring prosperity, ITIF focuses on innovation, productivity, and digital economy issues. Learn more at www.itif.org.