A new study shows a new law requiring food to be labeled with its country of origin would bring more benefits than costs for consumers. Iowa State University researchers joined their counterparts from four other schools to conduct the study. I-S-U economist Neil Harl says the study goes against those who’ve said it’ll be too costly. He says some of the estimates of the cost have taken a worst case scenario and he says the cost will be considerably less than predicted. Harl says people want to know what they’re getting. He says there’ve been enough disease outbreaks around the world that consumers want to know where their food comes from. Harl says the method for verifying the origin of the food is a key issue that needs to be decided before the law goes into effect in October of 2004. The U.S. Ag Secretary will make that determination.He says there are several ways to verify origin, with the most costly being third-party verification. He says that would lead to a cottage industry of organizations that verify food origin. Harl doesn’t think that’s needed. He says we have a number of systems already that successfully use voluntary compliance, such as the income tax system. The new COOL, or country-of-origin labeling law will cover all fruits, vegetables, beef, lamb, pork and fish sold in the U.S.
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