How Much Will GMO Labeling Cost Consumers?

October 8, 2013
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InfoGraphicDraftNothing. Not a single dime, notwithstanding the false claims being made. Action Alert!

More than ninety percent of American consumers want food labels to say whether they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The big food companies have been claiming—in advertising and published articles—that the new labels would cost too much, that they will place an unfair burden on business and raise food prices for consumers. In a new study commissioned by ANH-USA, Joanna M. Shepherd-Bailey, PhD, a professor at the Emory University School of Law, found that the opposite is true.

According to her research and calculations, consumer costs will not increase at all because of labeling. Food companies change their packaging all the time, and for most companies, adding a GMO label would happen during a normal package update. In fact, manufacturer costs are so minimal that it would actually cost more for food companies to print new price tags than it would for them to label GMOs!

The economic assessment study, which we commissioned, was prepared for Washington State Initiative 522, to address the question of expenses associated with the redesign of package labels and the display of placards in grocery stores. Her analysis shows that there will be no change in consumer food prices as a result of these relabeling expenses. In fact, she says, countless empirical studies and reports by government agencies establish the numerous reasons why food producers do not raise prices to offset the trifling expense of relabeling:

  • For many food producers, label changes required by Initiative 522 will be incorporated into regularly scheduled label redesigns.

  • The repercussions of price adjustment will deter food producers from raising prices to offset relabeling under Initiative 522.

  • As relabeling costs under Initiative 522 are a one-time expense rather than a permanent cost increase, sellers will not be willing to incur the repercussions of re-pricing.

  • The fear of losing customers in the competitive food industry is an important deterrent to changing prices.

Dr. Shepherd-Bailey’s study has implications beyond Washington. An earlier study of the economics in California showed similar results. Importantly, Bailey drew some of her conclusions from national data,  such as the FDA’s Labeling Cost Modes, which estimate the impact of regulatory labeling changes. The implication is that costs are unlikely to rise no matter where in the country GE labeling is introduced—in direct contradiction to claims from the pro-GMO coalition. Indeed, when the European Union required labels to indicate the presence of GMOs, there were no increases in grocery prices.

The biotech industry has an immense advertising war chest. But they can’t use deception to win every battle. We announced last week that the Monsanto Protection Act was stripped from the Senate’s version of the government funding bill—all because of your letters and phone calls. They listened to you!

The provision would have stripped federal courts of the authority to halt the sale and planting of potentially hazardous genetically engineered crops. It was inserted at the last minute in a funding bill back in March by allies of Monsanto and other GMO companies, but as Sen. Barbra Mikulski, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, put it, “My promises made are promises kept. . . . There’s no reason for [the Monsanto Protection Act] to be included in a short-term CR [Continuing Resolution].”

You can read Dr. Shepherd-Bailey’s full report on our new GMO campaign page, which launches today. It’s a “one-stop shop” for GMO news, educational materials, videos, and infographics you can share on social media, as well as breaking updates on Washington’s Initiative 522 campaign. We’ll have an abundance of good information in an easily digestible format about GMOs and the consumer’s right to know. We hope readers like you will share the info you find there to friends and family, and really make the site go viral (we have easy one-click social media sharing buttons).

We’ll also will be posting more reports—with lots of hard data—showing the economic and environmental impact of GMO labeling, not to mention the threats if we don’t act now. And of course we’ll have ways our members can take action. There’s a state-by-state push for GMO labeling afoot, as well as some buzz in Congress about a national GMO labeling bill. We need all our readers to educate themselves on the facts about GMO labeling, and share it with others.

GMO labeling won’t stifle innovation, it won’t cost consumers any money, and it won’t take GMOs off the market. All it will do is tell you what you and 282 million other Americans want to know: what’s in the food you’re feeding your family?

Action Alert! Contact your elected officials—in Congress and in your state legislatures—and let them know about this report. Tell them how many Americans are demanding to know what’s in our food, and show them it won’t cost consumers a thing. Please send your message today!


And be sure to visit and share our Label GMO campaign page!

12 Responses to “How Much Will GMO Labeling Cost Consumers?”

  1. Nancy says:

    What about the “No to 522″ ad claims that dog food will be required to be labeled, but meat for human consumption won’t? Seems like this is a more important consideration than rising food costs, which happens all the time anyway!


  2. PAT Project says:

    Please consider this: GMO labeling is actually what they want us to be demanding. It requires virtually everything be labeled, making it so ubiquitous that it will just be ignored the same way trans fat labeling and all the other labeled toxins are ignored. It would be a whole lot faster, and much more likely to get attention, if we were demanding food labeled “NON GMO,” which requires no legislation at all–just customer dissatisfaction. We need to be blasting the contact info for the CEOs of the top food manufacturers (and the trade associations that protect them) and lets start bombarding them with our demand for non GMO food. Same applies to farmers, along with the various farm associations, and trade associations for the various commodities involved. We need to let those who control our food supply know that we are no longer willing to buy this stuff. The only legal responsibility CEOs have is to increase profits for their shareholders. Threaten these profits and they have no choice but to respond, just as some are starting to already with HFCS free foods. Stop waiting on the (corporate controlled) politicians to get this done. If we succeed with getting labeling laws passed (a likely outcome, after a long, hard struggle), the industry will be given years to implement them (trans fat labeling was passed 3 years before it was announced to the public; then attention promptly misdirected to shortening vs. oil), and then, since labeling will include just about everything most Americans eat, so what? In the end, we’ll still have GMOs–everything will just have little icons on them saying what those who know already know and those who don’t still won’t.

    And keeping our focus on Monsanto is a gift to DuPont, BASF, Bayer, DOW and the other Ag Chem companies who would dearly love to take over Monsanto’s lion’s share of the market. In fact, this whole campaign works out so perfectly for them It’s almost as if they wrote the script themselves.

    We really need to rethink this. Consider that in 1990 the Center for Science In the Public Interest (with their founding and first decade of funding from 2 RJ Reynolds grants, 2 Rockefeller grants, and Wallace Genetics Foundation) got a million of their (mostly vegetarian) members to send postcards to McDonald’s and Burger King resulting in replacing the beef tallow in their deep fryers with soybean shortening (and a decade later it was CSPI who lobbied for trans fat labeling, producing the same…


    • PAT Project says:

      . . . industry protective affect that GMO labeling will produce). We need to do the same thing. If just everyone marching sent a post card to the top 10 food producers they’d be buried in our demands for GMO-free foods by next week!!


  3. Jerry says:

    How ridiculous since they are willing to blatently advertise twinkies. We got better returns from the right to know where it was grown.
    If these techfood folk are so proud of they’re product, why not brag about it on the label?
    I’m still waiting for the thousand dollar a plate GMO state dinner for our our leaders who embrace this horrid creation.


  4. Jan says:

    The argument that food prices won’t rise is the wrong one to use. Food prices will rise independent of labeling requirements. Present people with a graph showing the rise of food prices for 20 years, indicate when GMO crops became prominent. I’ve never seen this data but I bet the rise would correlate with introduction of GM crops. There may or may not be cause and effect which could also be pointed out but to accurately predict that food prices will rise is a no-brainer. Food prices also rise in tandem with a falling dollar.


  5. Violet Sunderland says:

    I am tired of being bullied by the bio-ag corporations.


  6. Barbara Viken says:

    The cost is nothing. There are already labels on some foods without a cost increase. So, do the labeling!


  7. Wrusssr says:

    This article confirms you’re sitting in the middle of the GMO camp. Does the term one-eyed jack have any meaning to you?


  8. Ben says:

    You don’t have to be an economic expert to know that it won’t cost any more, because companies are constantly redesigning their packaging, featuring movie tie-ins, contests, new and improved formulas, etc. OK, so there is one cost-the customers they’ll lose for being truthful. Maybe the loss in sales will spur companies to use high-quality ingredients, not lab concoctions.


    • Dawn says:

      That’s exactly right! It costs nothing. When they want to jump on the no trans fat or a naturally fat free food or the gluten free band wagons because it is to their benefit, they don’t complain about the cost! BUT, because this will likely cause them to lose customers, they are not so eager. The price increase will not come from the relabeling but from their switching to high quality ingredients which usually cost more since those are not subsidized by the government- oh Imean Monsanto!


  9. Joseph Langone says:

    The Only ones it would cost would be The chemical companies that are Producing the Crap. Because most people would not buy foods Laced with GMO’s if they were labeled. That is any one with even half a Brain. I almost forgot all the Politicians taking Money to stop the passage of the bill To label All Foods.


    • Hugh says:

      Why is no one commenting on the cost of implementing this program? What will be the costs associated with setting up yet another goverment agency to administer and police this action? What costs will fall on producers to verify that there produce is non GMO? I’ve seen little discussion of this. The cost of printing labels is a non-issue.


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