By Baran Hines
Mars Incorporated, the company that owns many popular chocolate candy brands has announced that it intends to label the products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), to comply with Vermont’s law. Vermont is the first state to require such labeling, effective July 1, 2016. The company will label its products nationwide, not just for the state of Vermont. Popular brands include M&M’s, SNICKERS, Dove, Galaxy, Mars, Milky Way, TWIX, 3 MUSKETEERS and more.
The decision comes at a time when GMO policy is in focus for the 2016 election season. Last week, the U.S. Senate voted 48-49 against a bill that would have blocked states from making their own GMO labeling laws. Senate Bill 2609, the Biotech Labeling Solutions Act has been called the DARK Act, an acronym for Deny Americans the Right to Know.
The biotech industry has worked with processed food companies to fund multiple initiatives in response to Vermont’s law including the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food (CFSAF) which is in support of the bill in Congress to ban state GMO labeling laws. CFSAF has been lobbying for a “common-sense proposal immediately that creates a uniform, national food labeling standard”, but seeks policy in favor of voluntary GMO labeling while excluding state laws. CFSAF has been running video commercials on YouTube and website ads featuring farmers and Senators calling for more favorable GMO policy. The ads often claim that farmers and families would be hurt by mandatory GMO label laws. CFSAF’s website states that families may end up paying more than $1000 extra annually for food because of state GMO labeling laws.
Another processed food industry group lobbying for similar legislation is the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association, which has challenged Vermont’s law in federal court.
In 2012, California voters could not pass Prop 37, a ballot measure that would have required labels for GMO. Monsanto and other major food companies spent almost $30 million to defeat the initiative.
Mars’ Position on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)
Mars, Incorporated has two overriding concerns: to manufacture and sell products that meet the highest standards of quality and food safety; and to satisfy our consumers’ needs.
All the ingredients we use in our products comply with our own strict internal quality and safety requirements as well as all applicable laws and regulations.
AIn addition, because we depend on our consumers for our success, we seek to understand their needs. In this way we aim to deliver products that match the different tastes, preferences and perceptions of consumers in different parts of the world.
s a result, our business units throughout the world make decisions about the ingredients used in the products they sell, based on the expectations of consumers in their region and the availability of ingredients.
Mars’ Position on GMO Labeling in the U.S.
At Mars, we not only ensure the safety of all raw materials in our products, we’re also committed to being transparent with our consumers so they can understand what’s in the products they love.
In 2014, the state of Vermont passed a mandatory genetically modified (GM) ingredient labeling law that requires most human food products containing GM ingredients to include on-pack labeling as of July 2016. To comply with that law, Mars is introducing clear, on-pack labeling on our products that contain GM ingredients nationwide.
We firmly believe GM 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.