In December 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had reviewed all the available evidence and was poised to approve meat and milk from cloned animals and their progeny. Such products, said the FDA, are virtually identical to meat or milk from a non-clone. Further, the FDA announced it would almost certainly not require food from clones to be labeled as such. Part I of this article identifies three functions that labels perform, outlines the types of information usually required, and introduces the rule that voluntary label information cannot be misleading. Part II focuses on process information and its implications. The article argues that there is no truly voluntary labeling when consumers care about a feature; if some products are labeled, then unlabeled products bear a de facto label by implication. Partly because of the de facto mandatory labeling principle, process labeling has the potential to mislead consumers. In Part III the article examines some relevant characteristics of consumers and argues that not all consumers can be misled by label information. Consumers who have no preferenc3es or who are very knowledgeable about the labeled feature are not misled by process labeling. Finally, using labeling of genetically modified (GM) ingredients as an example, the article suggests that mandatory labeling of some process information could enhance consumer sovereignty and welfare.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/donna_byrne/1/