New York, NY – Four U.S. lawmakers and 200 organizations, many with a financial stake in the outcome, today delivered a letter to President Obama demanding new federal labeling regulations on food products with genetically-modified ingredients.

To follow is a statement in response by New York City-based Jeff Stier, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Risk Analysis Division:

Similar measures have been defeated directly by voters in crunchy states like California and Washington for good reason.

Mandatory labeling of GM foods fails every justification for requiring them: scientific, economic, legal, and most of all, common sense.

Genetically modified foods, already consumed widely by American consumers, haven’t made anyone sick. Further, requiring labels would add all sorts of expenses that will make healthy foods more expensive.

Organic food companies, or any company, for that matter, are welcome to label their products as “GM free,” and many do. But mandatory labeling of safe products represents a classic case of rent-seeking; this is an effort to assert political influence at the expense of consumers and responsible farmers for the sole benefit of those seeking the labels.

If consumers wish to purchase GM-free foods, they can buy products labeled as such. Consumers already do have a right to know.

Numerous liberal organizations signed the letter, including Greenpeace, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth U.S., the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and the Environmental Working Group. Free-market and middle-of-the road groups do not appear to be represented.

Participating companies included Ben and Jerry’s, Stonyfield Farm, Amy’s Kitchen, Eden Foods, Odin Brewing and others.

Members of Congress participating in the demand for new regulations were U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME).

A copy of the letter and signers can be found here.

A Reuters article about the group’s demands can be found here.


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