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GMO food labels in the United States: Economic implications of the new law

Bovay, John, Alston, Julian M.
Food policy 2018 v.78 pp. 14-25
USDA, economic impact, food labeling, genetically modified foods, genetically modified organisms, issues and policy, United States
In July 2016, the U.S. Congress passed Senate Bill 764, which requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish a national disclosure standard for GE foods, as a compromise between forces pressing for a much stricter labeling law versus forces that opposed mandatory labeling laws altogether. The legislation, now known as Public Law 114-216, also preempts states from setting their own standards for mandatory GE labels. This article discusses the implementation of the new law and its potential economic consequences. We conclude that PL 114-216 is worse than a complete absence of mandatory labeling laws. However, it should be better than the likely scenario of policies that it pre-empted, and could be reasonably inexpensive, depending on the implementation details of the new law—which are yet to be determined—and how producers and consumers choose to respond to it.