Implications of mandatory GE labels

Published online: May 16, 2014
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A paper released by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) outlines the potential impact of mandatory labeling for foods with genetically engineered ingredients.

Alison Van Eenennaam, a biotech specialist with the University of California-Davis, was the lead author of the report.

She said there will be costs associated with mandatory labeling but those costs aren’t yet known.

“That really depends on how the market responds to genetically engineered labeling, how food manufacturers respond, what groups that are opposed to the technology do with products that have G-E labels. If there’s large protests or that type of thing, you can envision companies might respond to that by taking genetically engineered products out of your favorite cookie, if you will.”

Van Eenennaam said there are also potential legal implications.

“If we’re now looking at mandatory process-based labels, that’s really running afoul of the FDA’s determination that the products from genetically engineered crops are not different and are not a safety hazard and therefore do not mandate a label. Of course, you can voluntary label it.”

A bill introduced in Congress last month would only allow for labeling of genetically modified products in foods if the Food & Drug Administration determines it’s needed.