The tiny state of Vermont appears to have won a 2-year GMO labeling battle against the big food companies, despite the industry spending tens of millions of dollars to lobby Congress.
The state’s new law is only enforceable within its borders, but logistics make it too costly to provide labels for just the Freedom and Unity state. As a result, the country as a whole will get to see more information about what’s in their food – at least with General Mills and Campbell Soup products.
Vermont passed a law requiring food sold in the state to include GMO labeling back in 2014, which the food industry said would start chaos. But, the law is just a few months away from coming into effect, and so companies are weighing their options, according to MSN.
General Mills and Campbell Soup complain that labeling is too costly for just one state, so they’ll just label all their food products for the entire country.
Herr Foods complains that labeling is too costly for just one state, so they’ll just pull their foods from Vermont.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association just complains, saying that they need a national solution.
The solution they have in mind is quite clear. Last year, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 passed the House of Representatives. The bill would have prevented states like Vermont from making GMO labeling mandatory, preempting state laws with a voluntary requirement. Fox Business reports that the largest food companies in the U.S. spent millions to push the law through, but it was stopped in the Senate.
Now that even General Mills is acquiescent, Vermont’s new law appears inevitable. Governor Peter Shumlin hopes other companies would follow suit.
“This shows that the United States has the capacity to join the 64 other countries that already require GMO labeling. I urge other companies to follow the lead of General Mills and extend this right to their customers nationwide as well.”
Campbell Soup was the first company to announce they’d abide and extend the labeling nationally, but said at the time a state-by-state approach was not appropriate.
“Although we believe that consumers have the right to know what’s in their food, we also believe that a state-by-state piecemeal approach is incomplete, impractical and costly to implement for food makers. More importantly, it’s confusing to consumers.”
General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening wrote his opinion in a blog post.
“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 issued a statement, complaining that Vermont was making national laws.
“Food companies are being forced to make decisions on how to comply and having to spend millions of dollars. One small state’s law is setting labeling standards for consumers across the country.”
Perhaps the most confusing position on GMO labeling is that of Nestle.
Spokeswoman Edie Burge explained that Nestle supports the mandatory informed disclosure of the presence of GMO ingredients in food and beverages, and believes it’s best done by a uniform national approach.
But despite that support, the company does not voluntarily label foods with GMOs, but will “abide by state laws if they come into effect.” Likewise, the company was recently fined by Brazil for failing to disclose GMO ingredients according to the International Business Times.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Nestle also uses GMO derived ingredients in their baby food and actively fights calls to remove them.
Most confusing of all is the Nestle FAQ on GMOs. One user asked “Do you use ingredients derived from GMOs in your products?” and the company’s answer was especially dodgy.
“As a consumer goods company, we are particularly sensitive to consumers’ concerns, needs and preferences. We take the decision to use, or not to use, ingredients that have been derived from GMOs at local level in response to consumer concerns.”
In any case, the majority of Americans also support mandatory GMO labeling. The Christian Science Monitor reports that an AP poll from 2015 showed that 66 percent of respondents approved of labeling, while only 7 percent opposed. Vermont might be making a GMO labeling law that will effect the entire country, but a lot of the country might be grateful.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]