Sunday, May 29, 2016

GMO Labels and Information Transparency

Recently there was a tweet by @mem_somerville with a snapshot from a letter from Senator Elizabeth Warren regarding GMO labeling legislation:

Here's what I got from . Sent something months ago, you can imagine it didn't align with this.

This particular quote got me: "Markets work best when they are transparent, and I believe that consumers will be best served by a national, mandatory labeling standard."

I agree certain issues related to state by state labeling initiatives might well be addressed by a national standard, but transparency isn't one of them. I had written some time ago about how these labels are political by nature, and their purpose is not to inform, but actually capitalize on information asymmetry. This was in regard to initiatives that failed in California, but the issue is still the same:

"If informing consumers were the primary goal, then there are much more effectivet ways to do so, (vs labeling)....If it alarms otherwise apathetic consumers, are they really going to invest the time researching the safety of biotech foods  to close the information gap or are they going to turn to the unqualified opinions of celebrities and activists?  I would bet that the special interests are counting on consumers weighing heavily the opinions of celebrities and conspiracy theorists, and therefore letting the information asymmetries associated with biotech direct them to their own products.  In this way, Prop 37 is specially designed by special interests to take advantage of information asymmetries and exploit the fears of the public in an effort to drive market share or punish companies that they have philosophical or political issues with."

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