Consumers will soon know if the can of soup, bowl of cereal or handful of M&Ms they’re eating contains ingredients sourced from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). With a law in Vermont—the first state to mandate labeling for foods containing GMOs—scheduled to go into effect July 1, many food companies have found themselves backed into a corner. Faced with a dilemma, major manufacturers say all their products across the country will carry the GMO label claim to comply with the Vermont law.
Earlier this year, Campbell Soup became the first company to publically state its support of labeling products that contain GMOs. Other companies such as General Mills, Kellogg, ConAgra and Mars followed suit this month.
“At our core, Kellogg believes in transparency and that people should know what’s in their food and where it comes from. There’s been a lot of talk over the past year about GMO ingredients because of the ongoing debate in Washington, DC and around the country about whether and how foods that contain genetically modified ingredients should be labeled,” says Paul Norman, president of Kellogg North America. General Mills Executive Vice President and COO Jeff Harmening announced his company’s change in a blog post and called for a national solution to the GMO labeling problem. “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,” Harmening wrote. “The result: Consumers all over the US will soon be 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.”
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) responded to General Mills’ announcement, saying it is the latest example of how Vermont’s law is becoming a big problem for businesses. “Food companies are being forced to make decisions on how to comply and having to spend millions of dollars,” GMA says. “One small state’s law is setting labeling standards for consumers across the country.”