Friday, July 13, 2007

Free market and consumer choice - well one out of two's not bad

So I read that they want to prevent the labelling of meat and produce from cloned animals. Oops no sorry that's meat and produce from cloned animals should not require any special labelling. If consumers are that concerned then other producers will start to label their products accordingly.

Anyone else experiencing deja vu - GM foods, hormone injected beef? Last time this happened a company sued a distributor for labelling their own produce as GM-Free, arguing that as no special labelling requirements existed anti-labelling discriminated from other (i.e. their) produce.

Amusingly that's the tack taken here, if food is labelled as coming from cloned animals consumers will "instinctively reject it". Uh-huh so um why are you producing it? If the only way you can get people to eat it is by lying, oops omitting information then where is the incentive in producing it? Who is demanding the need for cloned food? I don't recall seeing protesters outside stores bearing placards with "We want cloned meat" or chanting "When do we want it? Now!"

Let's not stop here though. We've had a fuss kicked up by the government's traffic light scheme for foods, but only due to the fact that Tesco want to use their own system. Except why a system at all? Yesterday I showed how flakey some of these 'unhealthy' tags were isn't being forced to display this information a form of discrimination? If presented with two otherwise identical foods one of which was deemed high in salt the other low, wouldn't the consumer 'instinctively' reject the high salt one? Ditch the traffic light system, hey ditch the nutritional information altogether.

What about ingredients lists, wouldn't someone who was allergic to nuts 'instinctively' reject a product that contained them and favour one that didn't. Isn't that a bias?

Origin information! Shouldn't we prevent foods (and indeed all products) from displaying a mark of origin? Couldn't that be deemed an artificial barrier to foreign products, wouldn't a consumer be more likely to pick a home-produced item over an otherwise identical foreign one?

I'm exaggerating of course; well sort of. The point being is that labelling provides the information required by the consumer to make a decision about what to purchase and sadly in this legalistic nightmare saying that something doesn't require labelling can be construed as labelling regarding this subject is not allowed at all. Unless it is specifically pointed out that other producers can label their products as clone-free (provided they are) that's the tack that may be taken.