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Testing expert says labeling GMOs does not increase food costs

Friday, February 18, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: GMOs, food labeling, health news

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(NaturalNews) Prof. Chris Viljoen from the GMO Testing Laboratory at the University of the Free State in South Africa recently wrote a piece in BusinessDay countering false claims that mandatory labeling requirements for genetically-modified (GM) foods increase food costs. According to his analysis, mandatory GM labeling is good for both business and consumers.

In contrast to current U.S. policy, many nations around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, China, Brazil, and the entire European Union, require that food containing genetically-modified (GM) ingredients be labeled as such. And South Africa is now considering joining them as well. But the proposition has sparked a wave of misinformation from naysayers who insist that labeling requirements will increase food costs.

According to Viljoen, one such claim that mandatory labeling will increase food costs by up to 20 percent is patently false. An comprehensive study out of the EU found that GMO labeling requirements, depending on their stringency, increased food costs in Europe by a mere 0.17 percent at the most, which is hardly significant.

Viljoen also states in an article that there is virtually no cost increase for businesses to have their foods laboratory tested for GMOs, since such foods already have to be tested for other things like contaminants, additives, and colors. And in mose cases, producers already know if a conventional product they sell contains GM ingredients because many popular staple crops like corn and soy are almost always GM unless they are organic or specifically sold as non-GM. So any contention that testing is unreasonably burdensome and costly is pure nonsense, he says.

The real issue is not cost, but rather the effect that labeling has on consumer preference. Powerful biotechnology companies like Monsanto know that if given the choice, consumers will almost always choose non-GM food over GM food. So they work overtime to prevent labeling policies from being enacted, which is what they have thus far successfully done in the U.S.

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