FORCED LABELING OF GMO PRODUCTS WOULD BE BAD NEWS FOR NEW YORK
A.617B/S.485B will drive up costs while doing little to inform consumers
(Albany/June 6, 2016) Legislation to enact mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients in New York is misguided and will have detrimental effects on a number of key industries in the state as well as drive up costs for average consumers.
Today, members of the Assembly Codes Committee and Assembly Ways and Means Committee voted to advance A.617B.
“It’s unfortunate to see some members of the state Assembly giving in to junk science and scare tactics by advancing legislation that is intended to further misinform the public about genetic engineering and the safe role it plays in our current and future food supply,” said Rick Zimmerman, Executive Director of the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance. “State by state mandated labeling of foods containing ingredients that have been genetically engineered is going to drive up costs for consumers due to the varying requirements each state is enacting.”
Neighboring Vermont has passed a GMO labeling law that goes into effect in July—but the requirements of that statute do not match the requirements laid out in A.617B, thus creating the patchwork effect that food industry has long warned will cause costs to rise, and potentially reduce the availability of some products. New York’s law also imposes burdensome record keeping and paperwork requirements on retailers, which the Vermont bill does not.
“If GMO labeling is going to happen, it needs to stay in the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration, “said Michael Rosen, President and CEO of the Food Industry Alliance of New York State. “Individual state laws are going to create chaos for every step of the food distribution chain, and that chaos will mean higher prices for consumers.”
Legislation to enact labeling of foods with genetically engineered ingredients has been proposed at the federal level and is still under consideration.
Overwhelming scientific evidence has proven that foods produced with genetic engineering are nutritionally equivalent to those produced with conventional methods and pose no health risk. Major scientific and health organizations from around the world and here in the U.S. have said repeatedly that there is no need to label GM foods.
A report released just last month by the National Academy of Sciences re-affirmed the safety of GMO products. The exhaustive study took over two years to conduct and included input from more than 50 scientists, researchers, and industry experts reviewing nearly 900 studies dating back two decades to when GMO products were first introduced to the market.
“The farming industry is one that has continued to evolve and incorporate new technology to improve production methods and environmental stewardship in New York State,” said Jeff Williams, Public Policy Director at the New York Farm Bureau. “Forced GMO labeling is more about casting unnecessary doubt over the safety of these products than informing the public, and poses a threat to the future success of the agriculture industry in our state.”
“The science is clear, GMOs are safe, and these types of bills are an assault on science and technological advancements we need in order to keep up with our changing world and environment,” said Nathan Tinker, Executive Director of New York BIO. “These anti-science movements damage the good work that’s been done to grow the biotech industry in New York.”
A.617B has been sent to the Assembly Rules Committee for consideration.
GMO LABELING INITIATIVE IS BAD NEWS FOR N.Y. CONSUMERS, FARMERS, FOOD INDUSTRY
A.617B/S.485B will do little to inform consumers, while driving up prices and limiting products
On February 9, the Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee did a disservice to New York consumers and the food production and manufacturing industries by advancing legislation that will force the unnecessary labeling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients.
A.617B/S.485B was passed out of committee with a 9-7 vote.
For the past several years, New York seed producers, farmers, manufacturers and distributors along with some of the best scientific minds in our state have protested the forced labeling of foods containing GMOs. State by state labeling initiatives will raise prices, cause unnecessary red tape for farmers and other food producers, and potentially cause some products to become unavailable with no real benefit to consumers.
“Technology has allowed us to grow crops that are drought resistant and need fewer pesticides. This has a major impact on the food producers in New York and more broadly, on our ability to meet the challenge of feeding the world’s growing population”, said Nathan Tinker, the executive director of New York BIO. “As to the bioscience industry in particular, legislation like this sends the message that New York is anti-science, which makes it more difficult to grow our industry in this state.”
Overwhelming scientific evidence has proven that foods produced with genetic engineering are nutritionally equivalent to those produced with conventional methods and pose no health risk. Major scientific and health organizations from around the world and here in the U.S. have said repeatedly that there is no need to label GM foods. Those organizations include the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization and the US Food and Drug Administration.
“Genetically engineered crops are becoming increasingly important as our farmers seek tools to combat the impacts of climate change, but this important research will be undermined by a mandatory label. Let’s be clear, the real motivation behind the statewide labeling campaign is to take the first step on a path to do away with GMO crops altogether. It is time that science wins out over fear if we want to safely feed our growing population,” said Jeff Williams, New York Farm Bureau’s Public Policy Director.
Individual state labeling initiatives will create a patchwork of policies that food producers will have to navigate in order to get their products on store shelves. Some may choose to not do business in a state with an individual labeling law.
“GMO labeling has to be done at the national level,” said Michael Rosen, President and CEO of the Food Industry Alliance of New York State. “State labeling will prevent retailers from taking advantage of sales and overstocks in other states. It will drive up food prices for New York consumers.”
Legislation that would keep GMO labeling at the federal level was proposed by Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS). It was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this summer and is awaiting action by the Senate.
Additionally, pending litigation over a similar law passed in Vermont has yet to be rectified, and could have an impact on other states GMO labeling legislation.
“New York lawmakers need to take a step back before going it alone on mandated GMO labeling,” said Rick Grant, PhD, President of the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance. “The potential effects on cost and food availability could have real impact on residents who can least afford it-estimates say those increase costs could be as high as $500 a year for a family of four—an unaffordable burden for many.”
The bill now goes on to the Assembly Codes Committee for further consideration. The opponents of this proposed legislation will continue to call on lawmakers to reject this measure.