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GMO Research Studies

Here are some of the issues and studies discussed in “Washington’s Food Fight,” as well as links to the original studies to help you come to your own conclusion.

Will labeling drive up food prices?

A study by the Washington Research Council says that labeling genetically modified food could cost a family of four in Washington state between $200 to $520 more a year in grocery bills. That cost could go up to nearly $800 for a family of six.

However, a different study by Emory University showed that customers will only see prices go up by $1.27 a year. The study found that printing new labels are a “one-time expense” for food companies, and would result in “little or no change” in food prices.

Are GMOs safe to eat?

In “Washington’s Food Fight,” GMO opponents point to a peer-reviewed animal feeding study that was done in France over the course of two years. The study found that lab rats fed GMO corn had more tumors, organ failure and premature death than the control rats. A list of other studies provided by opponents show that GMOs have been linked to 65 other health risks, ranging from infertility to allergies.

On the other side, GMO supporters say there have been more than 600 peer-reviewed scientific studies vouching for the safety and nutritional wholesomeness of genetically engineered foods. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says on its website that “genetically engineered plants must meet the same requirements, including safety requirements, as foods from traditionally bred plants.” The FDA requires the seed developers to do an analysis of “fiber, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals,” and determine if the food contains any “toxic or allergenic” materials.

 Do GMOs increase pesticide use?

Charles Benbrook, who is interviewed in “Washington’s Food Fight,” analyzed 16 years of government data on corn, soybeans and cotton. He found that pesticide use dropped significantly during the first six years. But after that, weeds became resistant and began to spread. Overall, pesticide use has increased by 400 million pounds, according to the study.

More information

Both of the campaigns involved in Initiative 522 have resources on their websites: Yes on 522 and No on 522.

UPDATE: In October, the Washington State Academy of Sciences released a new report about what would happen if Initiative 522 passes. The group is made up of scientists and engineers, and the report was requested by a bipartisan group of state legislators.

The report found that GMO foods are “safe given the current state of knowledge and evidence,” with no documented long-term health effects in scientific studies.

However, it called for “continued surveillance of long-term health effects” of both GMO and non-GMO foods. It noted that some scientific authors are concerned that most of the studies done on GMO food have been “short-term studies, mostly nutritional studies, with limited toxicological information.”

While the authors of the report do not provide a dollar figure, they believe that food prices will increase if the initiative passes.

“Mandatory labeling, especially at a state versus federal level, is likely to affect trade and impose higher costs on firms producing and selling products in Washington. These costs are likely to be passed on to the consumer resulting in higher food prices,” the report said.

You can read the full 30-page report here.