Misconceptions about the safety and importance of genetically modified products in our food supply is driving the recent push to label GMO foods in New York and other states. It will have serious consequences for the food production and distribution industries and consumers, according to a panel of experts speaking at a forum hosted by the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) Wednesday in Albany. The panel focused on the impact GMO labeling requirements will have on nearly every aspect of the food industry, from seed to grocery store shelves.

Representatives from a wide variety of food production sectors, including feed manufacturers, retailers, and food producers agreed that concerns about GMOs is unnecessary, adds a heavy burden to food manufacturers and distributors, and if enacted, would lead to higher food prices and reduced availability of food items for consumers.

“The push to label foods that contain GMOs in New York doesn’t take into account the real world costs for both the industry and consumers, “ said Rick Zimmerman, Executive Director of NEAFA. “The panel which included some of the biggest retailers in our state as well as local food producers agree—forced labeling will directly impact their businesses, drive up costs for consumers, and could also mean for small manufacturers, the cost of complying with such a law may be too much for their businesses to sustain.”

Last year, a study from Cornell showed a $500 annual increase in food costs for a family of four if GMO labeling legislation were to be enacted.

Studies have proven that genetically modified foods are as safe as conventionally grown food. These studies have been cited by some of the most well known and most respected organizations in the country, including the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“The world is facing major food production and environmental challenges in the near future,” said Kate Hall of Council for Biotechnology Information. “ While genetic engineering isn’t the silver bullet that will solve all of those challenges, it is a technology that we should be embracing, rather than vilifying.”