SLI-Report 2002:2

Labelling of genetically modified (GM) food – a socioeconomic perspective

Labelling of food products is becoming more extensive. Firms provide more labelling on a voluntary basis to attract consumers’ attention. Also, new labelling requirements have been initiated by legislation, and in some cases this labelling differs from previous labelling by informing about the production process rather than about the product itself. With this kind of new labelling follows demands for documentation of the product. It must be possible to trace the products’ production processes in order to establish the assurance in labelling claims. An example of such labelling is the requirement for GM labelling.

The new mandatory GM labelling increases the costs of production. Such private costs could, however, be compensated by social gains by, for an example, increased consumer benefits or positive external effects. Labelling can, for example, increase the choice set available to consumers, improve public health or yield positive effects for the environment. In this report we discuss such pros and cons for labelling with a special reference to GM labelling. SLI has also published a report on the effects of the new labelling from a business administration perspective.

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