The Heritage Foundation

News Releases

June 8, 2016

June 8, 2016 | News Releases on

Mandatory GMO Labeling Laws “Coercive, Unfounded and Misleading”

Vermont’s genetically modified organism (GMO) mandatory labeling law goes into effect on July 1.  Many in the food industry argue that they will need to label all food sold nationally based on the Vermont standard because they wouldn’t choose to have multiple labels simultaneously.
But Heritage Foundation agricultural policy expert Daren Bakst says mandatory labeling requirements (or de facto mandatory labeling) create big problems regardless of whether they come from a state or the feds.  “Creating a federal mandatory labeling requirement merely trades one problem for another,” he says.
While Bakst agrees that the food industry has a legitimate concern, he asserts that “this concern pales in comparison to the much larger problems associated with mandatory labeling.”
The biggest issue, he argues, is that the labeling requirements are “coercive, unfounded and misleading.”
“No government, federal, state or local, should compel companies to engage in speech that gives the false impression that there’s something wrong with genetically engineered food.  It misleads consumers and legitimizes bad science.
"Major scientific organizations have consistently said genetically engineered food on the market is as safe as food that isn’t genetically engineered,” he noted.
“Mandatory labeling would likely have a negative effect on genetic engineering, which has so much potential to solve many agricultural and nutrition challenges around the world,” Bakst said. “It also would likely hurt agriculture; about half of U.S. cropland (169 million acres) was used to grow genetically engineered corn, cotton, and soybeans in 2013.” 
“Simply preempting flawed state policy with a national labeling scheme solves nothing,” Bakst argued. “Indeed, it could make the situation worse by having the federal government legitimize unfounded and harmful anti-GMO fears.”

About the Author

Justin Posey Communications Manager, Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity and Legal Studies
Media Relations