To Label Or Not To Label

April 28, 2014

To Label Or Not To Label

On Monday, April 28, CAST joined with the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research (National C-FAR); the American Society of Plant Biologists; the Agronomy, Crop, and Soil Science Societies; and the Modern Agricultural Caucus to host two research seminars on the impacts of mandatory labeling for genetically modified food (new CAST report) and crop breeding as the root of American agriculture. The combined seminar was presented from noon to 1:30 pm in 1300 Longworth House Office Building. The labeling seminar was also presented in 337 Russell Senate Office Building at 10:00 am. 
 
The presenter on the CAST labeling report was Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, Department of Animal Science, UC-Davis. The presenters on the crop breeding presentation were Dr. Sally Mackenzie, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky, UC-Davis. 
 
“Bottom line, we need better communication regarding the scientific issues and the possible legal and economic consequences of mandatory GMO food labels,” says Dr. Van Eenennaam, Task Force Chair of the CAST report. 
 
The labeling issue was also front and center during a late-afternoon panel discussion cohosted by CAST and FoodPolicy.US. Dr. Van Eenennaam was joined by Dr. Mark Walton (Chief Marketing Officer of Recombinetics), Thomas Redick (GEEC Law Practice), and Karil Kochenderfer (LINKAGES) on the panel. Dr. Charles Weiss (Distinguished Professor at Georgetown University) was the moderator.

View videos of the panel discussion by clicking here.

This press release contains the basic information covered by the new CAST Issue Paper.

The Potential Impacts of Mandatory Labeling for Genetically 
Engineered Food in the United States

New CAST Issue Paper Looks at the Controversy Surrounding the GE Food Labeling Debate


April 28, 2014…Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa. Although genetically engineered (GE) products are used around the world, the issue becomes contentious when they are present in our food. A key part of the resulting debate centers on proposals regarding the mandatory labeling of GE food.


Many states are considering legislation to mandate such labels. CAST Issue Paper 54, The Potential Impacts of Mandatory Labeling for Genetically Engineered Food in the United States, examines arguments for and against labels, the costs involved with labeling, and experiences in countries that use mandatory labeling. Led by Task Force Chair Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, the authors gather factual information to produce a peer-reviewed publication that clarifies the potential impacts of mandatory labeling.


Proponents of mandatory GE labeling cite the right to know what is in their food as an important attribute of a democratic society. Opponents think that such a label will increase the cost of food and confuse consumers with no corresponding improvement in human health or food safety. Seemingly contradictory studies are cited to support opposing views—informed discourse about this emotional issue is hard to find. This paper looks at key aspects of the argument including the following:


•    Public opinion, polls, and methods used
•    Consumer choice and interpretations that support both sides
•    Right-to-know issues
•    Food safety and testing
•    Legal and economic issues


The authors finish with conclusions they pulled from their science-based research. They also call for better communication about this issue. They recommend that legislators and consumers should be provided with independent objective information to help move the national discussion from contentious claims to a more fact-based, informed debate.
CAST Issue Paper 54 and its companion Ag quickCAST are available online at the CAST website, www.cast-science.org/publications, along with many of CAST’s other scientific publications. All CAST Issue Papers, Commentaries, and Ag quickCASTs are FREE.

CAST is an international consortium of scientific and professional societies, companies, and nonprofit organizations. It assembles, interprets, and communicates credible science-based information regionally, nationally, and internationally to legislators, regulators, policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public.

Contacts for this Issue Paper:
Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam—Phone: 530-752-7942; E-mail: alvaneenennaam@ucdavis.edu
Ms. Linda M. Chimenti—Phone: 515-292-2125, ext. 231; E-mail: lchimenti@cast-science.org