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Requiring food manufacturers to label products containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients won’t raise food prices at the supermarket, according to an independent study commissioned by the national Just Label It campaign.
The study, conducted by independent consultant Kai Robertson, identified the key factors that influence retail prices, among them consumer demographics and rival pricing behavior, as well as market, chain and store characteristics. She found that wholesale prices have less of an impact on retail prices than these demand-related forces, with no evidence that label changes affect wholesale prices.
“Food processors regularly make changes to the labels of their products -- as part of ongoing product innovation to anticipate and meet changing consumer demands and for other marketing and regulatory reasons,” said Robertson. “There are no studies that document the impact of changes to a product’s label on prices charged by supermarkets.”
“Food manufacturers are constantly refreshing their labels to highlight new innovations, so simply adding the words ‘may contain genetically engineered ingredients’ to the back of the package will not add to the cost of making food,” added Scott Faber, executive director for Just Label It and formerly VP of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).
The Washington, D.C.-based national coalition of 650 organizations dedicated to the mandatory labeling of GE ingredients in food commissioned the study as more than 25 states consider legislation to label such products. Two states, Connecticut and Maine, have already approved GE labeling laws, and Washington voters will vote on a GE labeling ballot initiative in November. To bolster its case, Just Label It cites polls finding that more than 90 percent of American consumers want to know whether their food contains GE ingredients, and the fact that 64 nations have already made such labeling mandatory.