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Labelling and Pricing GM Foods

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 31 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Labelling And Pricing Gm Foods

Determining how a genetically modified (GM) food is priced is a complicated economical process that does not work the same across each type of crop. This means that there is no set rule or procedure for pricing GM crops.

They work in much the same way as conventional crops in terms of being governed by a number of factors such as the competitive aspect of other crops and supermarkets. Import taxes, laws and government subsidies as well as local weather for locally grown crops all affect how a crop is priced. Even the price of petrol will impact GM foods because it affects their storage and transport.

GM seeds are priced higher than conventional ones. In fact, they tend to be thirty to forty percent higher in price. However, biotechnology companies support the higher pricing by stating that the benefits of GM technology will essentially pay for the higher seeds plus yield additional profits for the farmers.

Consumers And GM Foods

The vast majority of consumers in Britain support the premise of choice when it comes to GM foods. In the European Union as well as in countries such as Japan and Australia, consumer demand for labelling has been quite consistent and aggressive. Consumers want to know what foods are free from GM foods, which allows them to decide if they will engage with the technology.

For this kind of labelling to work, there has to be a labelling system that allows for GM foods and non-GM, conventional foods to be appropriately separated and identified. This system needs to be in force early on at the production level and must continue right through to the marketing and processing of the food, before a consumer sees the package at the supermarket.

Contamination And Labelling Of GM Foods

With issues such as contamination of non-GM crops with pollen from GM fields, a major problem now has become that a product could incorrectly be labelled as 'organic' when in fact, it was contaminated with a GM food. Unfortunately, placing blame here is similarly difficult because nobody in the entire production line may have been able to identify that the contamination even occurred.

Choosing To Avoid GM Foods

For some countries, labelling is not even an option because consumers are not given the choice to purchase GM foods. GM foods have been banned from both production and importation. However, this has presented issues when the country is a developing one such as Zambia.

In 2003, food aid was refused because it entailed GM maize. Given that a famine was occurring throughout the country, the consequences were dangerous. The government did later change its mind and decide to allow GM maize, although other GM foods were still banned.

Although there are still a number of concerns about risks from GM foods, it would seem that labelling is a sensible regulation and law that should be adopted globally. However, in places such as the United States where GM foods are abundant in terms of production, exportation and the local marketplace, it can virtually always be assumed that unless a product is cited as 'GM Free,' it will contain some GM ingredient or derivative.

Most consumers in Britain can safely avoid GM foods by choosing organic ones, although they can expect to pay more for these products in many instances. The higher prices tend to result from smaller farm operations that place a great deal of manpower and effort into cultivating crops without pesticides and instead, using natural methods to discourage pests and weeds. Ultimately, it is your decision if you want to read labels and try to avoid GM foods while choosing organic goods. For some people, the higher costs are worth it to avoid GM products.

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