Following General Mills’ announcement last week that it would begin labeling genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) in all of its food products, candy maker Mars, Inc. and cereal maker Kellogg's both announced on Monday that they too will begin to label the presence of genetically modified ingredients on all food products.
Kellogg's and Mars Inc. like General Mills, made the decision to label GMOs based on the Vermont state law that will require labeling on foods sold in the state that containe GMOs. The law goes into effect in July. The Campbell Soup company also announced earlier this year that it would begin labeling GMOs.
“To comply with that law, Mars is introducing clear, on-pack labeling on our products that contain GM ingredients nationwide,” Mars, Inc. said in a statement on its website.
“We firmly believe GM ingredients are safe,” Mars explained, “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.”
But it also said that it’s committed to transparency and supporting its customers, "because we depend on our consumers for our success, we seek to understand their needs."
In a statement provided to Agri-Pulse late Monday afternoon, Kellogg North America President Paul Norman said the company's labels would start including “Produced with Genetic Engineering” as soon as mid-April, unless any congressional action put the GMO labeling bill in Vermont on hold. "[A] special label for Vermont would be costly for us and our consumers,” Norman said of Kellogg's decision to label nationally.
Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group said Mars' decision was “yet another step forward in what has been a long march towards greater transparency.”
Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farm and Just Label It applauded Mars and said, "we hope Congress can come to an agreement over mandatory, national GMO labeling that works for everyone.”
Last year, Mars, which produces M&M’s and Wrigley’s gum among other sugary confections, stood out in support of federally proposed added sugar labeling on Nutrition Fact Panels. Both Kellogg's and General Mills opposed added sugar content on labels.
Vermont's GMO labeling law, the first of its kind in the U.S., has been at the center of controversy and lawsuits aimed at dismissing it as unconstitutional. But last week, another federally introduced anti-GMO labeling bill, known as the DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know) failed to pass through the Senate, giving more momentum to Vermont's bill.
Anti-GMO labeling efforts, including campaigns funded by the Grocery Manufacturer's Association, suggested that labeling GMOs will lead to significant increases in food prices for consumers and farmers, but research that's looked at GMO labeling laws in Europe disputes that assessment.
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