General Mills unveiled Friday its plans to put GMO labels on all its U.S. products containing genetically modified ingredients. The move comes months before a GMO-labeling law will come into effect in Vermont.
The company announced that it was impractical to put labels only on products sold in one state, so it decided to opt for voluntary GMO-labeling across all U.S. states. General Mills is the second food company after Campbell Soup that takes such decision.
Vermont will require all products that contain GMOs to say so on labels starting July 1, 2016.
Mike Siemienas, a spokesperson for the maker of Cheerios, said customers should see the new labels in the next several weeks. As of recently, the U.S. Senate failed to pass a law that would have set a national standard for voluntary GMO-labeling as the food industry had wished.
The Grocery Manufacturers Assn. commented on General Mills’ decision by saying that the move reflects the need of such national standard. The group noted that one ‘small state’ has practically managed to set a national labeling standard.
Earlier this year, Campbell Soup Co. also agreed to put GMO labels on its products if the federal government failed to issue unifying legislation in a “reasonable amount of time.”
Nevertheless, don’t expect GMOs labels to be very visible. In fact, customers will have to look for them attentively. For instance, a new label on a sample of a Spaghetti-Os can mentions it was partially manufactured with genetic engineering at the bottom of the back of the package.
On the other hand, General Mills did not call for mandatory labeling. It only added that food-concerned consumers could visit its site for more info on its products’ ingredients. Some of the food company’s brands that contain GMOs are some types of Cheerios, Nature Valley bars, Hamburger Helper, Cocoa Puffs, Kix, and Franken Berry.
Crops are genetically modified to become more resilient to pests and herbicides. In the U.S. almost all soybean and corn crops are genetically altered. Plus, these crops are also used as animal feed, so the GMOs make it into meat and diary products. Genetically altered corn- and soy-based byproducts are heavily used by the industry in a wide variety of processed foods.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, food industry, and the World Health Organization deemed these crops safe for human consumption. But customer groups argue that more research needs to be conducted before saying that they’re safe.
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