Campbell Soup Co. has announced its support for federally mandated GMO labeling, and as a result will withdraw from efforts led by coalitions and groups opposing such measures.
“Campbell is optimistic a federal solution can be established in a reasonable amount of time if all the interested stakeholders cooperate,” said the company that continues to recognize that GMOs are safe. “However, if that is not the case, Campbell is prepared to label all of its U.S. products for the presence of ingredients that were derived from GMOs, not just those required by pending legislation in Vermont. The company would seek guidance from the FDA and approval by USDA.”
The company continues to oppose a patchwork of state-by-state labeling laws, which it believes are impractical.
This July in Vermont, a GMO labeling mandate is scheduled to begin, but it’s uncertain whether it will take effect as the outcome of a legal challenge, and federal legislation that would block state-based mandates, remain to be seen.
The legislation, which was passed in the House and awaits a companion bill in the Senate, would not mandate GMO labeling. Instead it would put the onus on companies wishing to label their products as GMO-free to have them verified as such under a federal system.
In the meantime, Campbell has created a special label for products merchandised in Vermont that contain GMOs. It would use this label on all products that contain GMOs if a federal GMO labeling requirement is not enacted.
Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stoneyfield Farm and chairman of the Just Label It campaign praised Campbell's decision to support mandatory labeling. "Campbell’s has been a leader in giving the consumer more information about their food and their support for national, mandatory GMO labeling is consistent with that tradition," he said in a statement.
"Consumers simply want a factual disclosure on the package, not a warning, and we are hopeful that Congress can craft a national GMO labeling solution in the coming months. Thanks to Campbell’s leadership, we are closer to reaching that goal. Just Label It has long been an advocate for a national GMO disclosure that works for both consumers and industry. We welcome the opportunity to work with Campbell’s and other food leaders to quickly develop a solution that gives consumers the same information as consumers in 64 other nations."
Not all stakeholders are pleased with Campbell's decision. The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, which is backed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and other industry associations, issued a statement saying that "While individual companies are free to make labeling decisions that are best for their businesses, it remains the overwhelming consensus that on-package labeling of foods made with GMOs is unnecessary, inherently misleading and will drive up food prices for consumers, with low-income Americans being particularly hard hit. The Food and Drug Administration recently rejected a citizen’s petition calling for mandatory on-package labeling of GMOs, stating that GMOs are safe and mandatory labeling is therefore unnecessary. Mandatory labeling was also overwhelmingly rejected by both the U.S. House and Senate."
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