Washington and California consumers may have dodged a major bullet, and Vermont shoppers look to be in for a rude shock, based on the latest research from Cornell University. Researchers found that “GMO labeling” policies that flopped before voters on the Pacific Coast and were recently enacted in the Green Mountain State would cost New York State residents (whose legislature is considering the dubious proposal) up to $800 per family per year, with a best estimate of $500 per year. Other studies have found similar cost increases in California and Washington State if they had adopted the policy.
These and similar findings led James McWilliams, a vegan commentator who is no particular friend of food companies, to write that he’d “prepare to pay more for food” under GMO labeling. Activists’ purported “Right to Know” isn’t free.
The worst part of all these possible price increases is that consumers get basically nothing for accepting them. In order to attack genetically improved foods (GIFs), activists like the Environmental Working Group, Greenpeace, and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps have spun what an emeritus professor from the University of Illinois recently termed a “multi-decade public disinformation campaign” that GIFs are unsafe and need to be labeled.
In fact, an overwhelming scientific consensus including such bodies as the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of London, and the American Medical Association find GIFs no less safe than conventional foods. The Economist recently put the issue into stark relief: In 2013, 3.1 million people worldwide died of malnutrition; zero died from GIFs. Since GIFs offer the promise of reducing malnutrition through Vitamin A-enriched staple crops (like Golden Rice), activists’ crusade to scare Americans—who have been up to now comparatively supportive of GIFs—may come with a body count along with a price tag.