Food giants ConAgra Foods and Kellogg’s have announced that they will begin voluntarily labeling their products which contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
ConAgra and Kellogg’s will soon begin labeling their food products which contain Genetically Modified or Engineered Organisms. The announcement comes in response to Vermont’s recently passed GMO labeling law, which goes into effect in July 2016. In a statement provided to Agri-Pulse, Kellogg North America President Paul Norman said some of the company’s products would be labeled “Produced with Genetic Engineering” as soon as mid-April. Norman said the labels will appear nationwide “because a special label for Vermont would be costly for us and our consumers.”
“We stand behind the health and safety of all of our products, including those with genetically modified ingredients, and believe consumers should be informed as to what’s in their food,” ConAgra Foods said in a statement. ConAgra agreed with Kellogg, stating that state-by-state labels would be costly and complicated. The company also called on Congress to pass a “national solution as quickly as possible.”
The announcement comes on the heels of a similar decision from Mars Incorporated, the company that owns many popular chocolate candy brands. The company will label its products nationwide, including M&M’s, SNICKERS, Dove, Galaxy, Mars, Milky Way, TWIX, 3 MUSKETEERS and more. A week before, General Mills’ announced that it would voluntarily label products containing genetically-modified or engineered ingredients.
Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President for General Mills’ U.S. Retail, Jeff Harmening, said the company could not exclusively label their products in Vermont without driving up the cost for consumers. Harmening also said GM was disappointed that a national solution has not been reached.
One “national solution” that has been proposed is Senate Bill 2609, or the Biotech Labeling Solutions Act. The legislation, introduced by Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) in late February, would create a federal voluntary standard for labeling genetically modified or engineered ingredients, and block mandatory labeling efforts by states. GE seeds are engineered to have certain traits, such as resistance to herbicides. The majority of the United States’ corn and soybean crops are now GE, including a large portion that is used for animal feed.
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The bill recently failed to reach the 60 votes needed during a procedural vote, with 49 votes in favor and 48 votes against. The bill would “amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a national voluntary labeling standard for bioengineered foods.”
Roberts’ bill is similar to the controversial Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which passed the House in June 2015. To critics, the bill was known as the “DARK” (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act because the law would have effectively nullified GE labeling measures, such as the Vermont bill. Senator Roberts’ bill would prevent the Vermont bill from becoming law. Lawmakers say that a new bill is necessary to avoid a “patchwork” of laws that vary from state to state. Maine and Connecticut have also passed laws requiring labeling, but those measures will not go into effect until bordering states also pass legislation.
Whole Foods Market Inc, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc and Campbell Soup Co have also begun voluntarily labeling products with genetically engineered ingredients. Perhaps the companies recognize that involving the U.S. government will only create more problems, especially when the government is so heavily interlaced with biotechnology companies like Monsanto. It appears as if companies are finally recognizing that the American people want to know what is in their food. As Anti Media recently noted, it seems as if “Vermont, one of the smallest states in the Union, might have just managed a coup for consumers” by being bold enough to pass a labeling law that is inadvertently persuading food manufacturers to voluntarily label their products.
What are your thoughts on GMOs? Are they safe or a health hazard? Do you support labeling? Should labeling be voluntary or mandatory? Leave your thoughts below.
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