The issue of whether the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in food and beverages has been contentiously debated by consumers, activists, the food and beverage industry and lawmakers for years. However, the debate over mandatory versus voluntary labeling heated up over the past few years as a number of U.S. states introduced ballot initiatives calling for mandatory labeling of genetically engineered ingredients.
Big Food companies and lobbyist groups including the Grocery Manufacturers Association contend GMO ingredients are safe for human consumption and there is no need for mandatory labeling. However, on March 16, 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 GE foods. While a compromise could still be struck by lawmakers, a number of major food companies, including Campbell Soup Co., General Mills, Mars Inc., the Kellogg Co. and ConAgra Food, recently announced they will being rolling out nationwide on-pack labeling of GE ingredients in an effort to align with Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling requirements that go into effect July 1, 2016.
All of the companies emphasize that GMOs pose no known risks to human health or safety, but instead are listening and reacting to consumers’ demand for more natural ingredients in their products. The companies also are calling on lawmakers to come together and pass a national GE labeling solution.
In this episode, Judie Bizzozero, managing editor, INSIDER, and Rebecca Spector, west coast director, Center for Food Safety, discuss:
- Vermont’s looming July 1 enactment of mandatory GMO labeling on foods and beverages
- How big food companies are implementing nationwide on-pack GMO labeling to conform to Vermont’s law
- Consumer demand for GMO ingredient labeling on food and beverages
Links and Resources:
- Kellogg, ConAgra Adopt Nationwide GMO Labeling
- General Mills to Rollout GMO Labeling on U.S. Products
- Senate Rejects Voluntary GMO Labeling Bill 49 to 48
- Senate Ag Chairman Roberts Introduces ‘DARK’ Act
- Food Industry Describes Burdens of Vermont's GMO Labeling Law
- Vermont GMO-Labeling Lawsuit
- Healthy INSIDER Podcast 1: FDA Recommends Against Using 'Non GMO' Labeling
Got feedback? Email Judie Bizzozero at [email protected] or tweet to @NatProdINSIDER using the hashtag #InsiderPodcast. For a complete library of podcasts, download the Healthy INSIDER Podcast app on iTunes.