Challenges to GMO Labeling Laws

States are having a difficult time passing proposed legislation requiring manufacturers to label products containing GMOs. There is an outcry from the food producing industry to stop the implementation of laws that require GMOs to be labeled. Manufacturers throughout the country are outwardly against legislation requiring GMOs to be labeled. They contend that the labels will be more detrimental than beneficial. In 2014, Colorado rejected the bill which would require GMOs to be labeled [JURIST report]. However, a few months prior, Vermont's governor signed a bill that would require GMOs to be labeled. Supporters of the bill argue that such labels would allow the consumer to make better informed decisions about what to feed themselves and their families.
This issue has not gone unnoticed in other countries, European Court of Justice declared that a ban on cultivating GMO crops is illegal, unless it is found to be harmful to humans or the environment [JURIST report]. The affected industry claims that requiring GMOs to be labeled will "disrupt food supply chains, confuse customers, and lead to higher food costs," according to Pamela Bailey, Grocery Manufacturers Association President. Companies will experience a loss of customers and an increase in cost of producing goods. Consumers who are not educated in the matter may be concerned about the GMO presence on the label and decide to buy a brand that does not contain GMOs. The spokeswoman for the Coalition Against Deceptive Food Labeling Scheme stated GMO labeling would, "force California families to pay hundreds of dollars more in higher food prices, would cost millions in government bureaucracy, and would not provide any health and safety benefits." [Environmental Health Perspectives article] The possible rise in costs, though debatable, would affect the poor the most because although the GMOs are labeled, the poor will still have to pay the higher food price at the cost of receiving this information.
Pro-labeling supporters contend that it is a right to know what is in food, especially if there is a potential risk. In opposition, manufacturers believe that this will only hurt the industry because consumers that are not fully educated on the matter will be afraid to buy products that are labeled to contain GMOs. The loss [EHP article] of customers will create an economic hardship on the industry and will burden the poor with even higher costs of food. The country waits to see whether more states will pass bills similar to Vermont and the impact that the industry's protest will have.

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