GMO Labeling Movement Grows

Manufacturers act to comply with July 1 Vermont law
GMO labeling

On the heels of a similar announcement from Campbell Soup Co. in mid-January, General Mills, Kellogg, ConAgra and Mars have also announced they will label genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on their products.

The major manufacturers made the move to comply with a Vermont law that goes into effect July 1. And although the law applies only to Vermont, the companies said they will label GMOs on product packaging nationwide.

Meanwhile, Congress is moving to pass its own national legislation on the subject, but it won’t be passed before the Vermont law takes effect, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley told The Des Moines Register.

“We can’t label our products for only one state without significantly driving up costs for our consumers and we simply will not do that,” wrote Jeff Harmening, executive vice president and COO for U.S. retail for General Mills, on the company’s blog.

General Mills products with GMO labeling are likely already in stores, but the company is also providing the information on its website. Consumers can click on a product to find the percentage of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in the food. For example, “some ingredients (generally less than 75% of the product by weight)” in Yoplait are from plants grown using GE seed, while Cheerios “does not contain GE ingredients.”

92%

The amount of U.S. consumers who prefer labeling on genetically engineered food, according to Statista

As for Mars, it will introduce clear, on-pack labeling on products that contain GMOs. The company stresses on its website, though, that genetically modified ingredients are safe: “Food developed through biotechnology has been studied extensively and judged safe by a broad range of regulatory agencies, scientists, health professionals, and other experts around the world.”

Mars also “supports efforts to find a single, national GMO labeling definition,” company  spokesman Jonathan Mudd told TakePart. “We want to avoid a 50-state patchwork of different requirements.”

And the Campbell Soup Co. says patchwork state-by-state labeling laws are “incomplete, impractical and create unnecessary confusion for customers.”