"The numbers just aren't there, and the numbers that are there vary widely," said
The question of cost has been a contentious one in the campaign to determine whether
Pro-labeling ads claim the measure won't raise the cost consumers pay for food. A study commissioned by the "anti" side says the annual food bill for a family of four would jump by
The academy reviewed cost estimates from
The group concluded that the cost of labeling itself will be negligible, but that food producers are likely to incur extra expenses from having to separate genetically engineered ingredients from other foods.
"Mandatory labeling ... is likely to affect trade and impose higher costs on firms producing and selling products in
But the lack of any experience with labeling in the U.S. stymied the panel's attempts to zero in more precisely, said co-chair
In surveys, consumers say they are willing to pay a 20 to 40 percent premium for GE-labeled foods, Marsh said. "So if you are comparing costs and benefits, if costs are higher than that, this legislation would cost the state of
The panel also reviewed safety and nutritional studies of genetically engineered crops and foods, and concurred with all the other major scientific panels that have covered the same ground -- including the
"There have been no indications that genetically modified foods are in any way unsafe, or that there have been any health problems associated with them," said Nester, who was part of the team that laid the groundwork for modern genetic engineering.
In the 1970s, he and his colleagues discovered that a microbe called Agrobacterium acts as a natural genetic engineer, inserting its DNA into the nuclei of plant cells. Today, biologists use Agrobacterium as a vector for genetic engineering, replacing the microbe's DNA with the genes they want to add to a crop. But Nester never ventured into genetic engineering himself, limiting his research to basic science.
"Key findings ... support previous statements of the No on 522 campaign that the initiative would increase costs for farmers, food producers and consumers ... " said a statement.
As of Wednesday, the No campaign had raised
The Yes campaign, whose biggest donor is Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, has raised just under
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