General Mills announced today it will begin labeling U.S. products that contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. The move comes just months before Vermont’s law that will require labels on GE foods by July 1, 2016, and bans use of the word “natural" and similar words that promote GE foods. General Mills said its supply system does not allow for state-by-state packaging.
In a blog post on General Mills’ website, Jeff Harmening is an executive vice president and chief operating officer, for U.S. retail, wrote: “We can’t label our products for only one state without significantly driving up costs for our consumers. The result: Consumers all over the U.S. will soon begin seeing words legislated by the state of Vermont on the labels of many of their favorite General Mills products."
“With the Vermont labeling legislation upon us, and with the distinct possibility that other states will enact different labeling requirements, what we need is simple: We need a national solution. So why has it been so hard to reach a consensus on this topic? All sides of this debate, 20 years of research, and every major health and safety agency in the world agree that GMOs are not a health or safety concern. At the same time, we know that some consumers are interested in knowing which products contain GMO ingredients," Harmening continued.
The company added a search tool on its website to provide GMO ingredient information for hundreds of its U.S. products, along with reference information.
The issue of whether GMO labeling should be voluntary has been contentiously debated in the food and beverage industry and Congress. Earlier this week, the Senate voted 49 to 48 not to advance a revised version of legislation calling for voluntary national biotech labeling standard that would basically block states from mandating labels on genetically engineered (GE) foods.
In January, the Campbell Soup Co. announced it is prepared to label all of its U.S. products for the presence of ingredients that were derived from GMOs, not just those required by pending legislation in Vermont. The company said it would seek guidance from the FDA and approval by USDA.