The Assembly Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection voted (9 to 6 with one abstention) to pass a bill that would force mandatory labeling on foods derived from genetically modified crops (GMOs) in New York. Every step of the food production and distribution process will be affected by this legislation and the added costs of producing, warehousing and distributing products with a single state label will be passed on to the consumer.

Consumers already have a choice in the marketplace if they do not want to purchase GMO foods—by purchasing organic products. By adding a GMO label, products could be construed as unsafe or of a lesser value, due to the incorrect information that has been widely distributed by labeling proponents.

“This action isn’t about providing consumer choice. It’s about vilifying a technology that has proven to be more environmentally responsible and will help feed people in parts of the world who face malnutrition. It’s about raising the cost of food for low-income families whose only choice will be to pay more or eat less. It’s government involvement in a free market system where companies are already voluntarily labeling thousands of products themselves,” said Jeff Williams, New York Farm Bureau’s public policy director.

Food costs will rise for New York families if this legislation is passed into law. A study released last year by the Dyson School for Economics at Cornell University found that a family of four would see their food bill rise by an average of $500 per year with a labeling mandate.

“Why would New York lawmakers force residents to pay more for a labeling initiative that does nothing to inform consumers, works against the agricultural industries in our state, and will cost the state millions to implement?” said Rick Zimmerman, Executive Director of the Northeast Feed and Agribusiness Alliance.
“As Assemblyman Bill Nojay noted, this bill amounts to a $500 tax on families in New York.”

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.

“Food labeling needs to be done at the federal level. State specific labeling will only lead to higher food prices and reduced opportunities to bring sale items into New York,” said Michael Rosen, President and CEO of the Food Industry Alliance of New York 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. Well respected organizations from around the world and here in the U.S. have said repeatedly that there is no need to label GMO foods. Those organizations include the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization and the US Food and Drug Administration.

GMO labeling initiatives are anti-science and send the wrong message to the scientific community.

“New York State has worked for years to build a robust bioscience industry. Passing legislation like this undermines that effort and reflects fear and misunderstanding rather than good science.” Said Nathan Tinker, PhD., Executive Director of NewYorkBIO.

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.