The Campbell Soup Co. has announced plans to begin GMO labeling on product packaging and has thrown its support behind creating a single mandatory labeling standard, reported the Boston Globe. The company reportedly also withdrew from any participation in groups that oppose the labeling of GMOs, which stands for genetically modified organisms, and took to Twitter to explain exactly why.
Why We Support Mandatory GMO Labeling https://t.co/UviDkvR2HI
— Campbell Soup Co (@CampbellSoupCo) January 8, 2016
“The Camden, New Jersey-based company will support federal legislation that would require all foods and beverages regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be clearly labeled for GMOs.”
According to the New York Times, Campbell’s Soup is the first major food corporation to begin voluntarily disclosing the presence of genetically modified ingredients, such as corn, canola, soy, and sugar beets, as it begins GMO labeling. The move is projected to take between 12 and 18 months as the company develops its new design standards and fine-tunes its related marketing approach.
The company produces a variety of popular brands, including Pepperidge Farm, Prego, Plum Organics, and V8, along with its line of traditional soups. The move is seen as risky, as it may deter buyers who are against GMOs, especially since large food companies are feeling intense public pressure to be more transparent about their use of genetically modified ingredients, many of which are farmed using products and methods developed by Monsanto.
Denise Morrison, who serves as CEO of Campbell, told the New York Times that approximately three-quarters of the company’s products currently contain ingredients that include GMOs. Although other companies, including General Mills and Tropicana, have taken small steps by reformulating a handful of products to remove the genetically modified ingredients, none have made as bold a move as Campbell.
“The move is reminiscent of that by Whole Foods Markets, which almost three years ago created an uproar when it announced that, as of 2018, it would require all products sold in its stores to have labels disclosing the presence of ingredients from genetically altered crops.”
Still, critics say that despite the positive step forward made by the Campbell Soup Company labeling GMOs, the devil is in the details. For example, since the Federal Government has not yet developed a standard for GMO labeling (which is not required), there is no set definition that Campbell – or any other food company – has to meet.
So far, this criticism seems to have at least some base in reality, since the New York Times also reported that the first example of a possible GMO label – placed on a can of Spaghetti-O’s – does not include much information, including which ingredients are genetically modified.
“It simply states at the bottom of the label: ‘Partially produced with genetic engineering. For more information about G.M.O ingredients, visit WhatsinMyFood.com.”
Coincidentally, the website is operated by the Campbell Soup Co. and reveals a few more details about their ingredients, processes, and so forth.
Other major companies, such as Kroger and Safeway, have also made a major effort to highlight their growing selection of organic options (by law, certified organic foods cannot contain GMOs), and have worked behind the scenes with big food manufacturers to stop opposing GMO labeling.
Still, many large corporations have argued long and hard against the requirement to label GMO ingredients, citing the confusing network of state laws, which contain a variety of different requirements. Morrison says this is why Campbell supports a plan that is developed on the federal level.
“A state-by-state patchwork of laws could be incredibly costly not only for our company but for the entire industry. That’s why we want the federal government to come up with a national standard that is mandatory.”
Morrison also revealed that the Campbell Soup Company is working closely with the Department of Agriculture and the FDA about GMO language for its packaging.
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