General Mills, Mars to Identify GMOs

Manufacturers act to comply with Vermont law, while speaking out against state-by-state labeling regulations
General Mills cereal

On the heels of the Campbell Soup Co.’s announcement mid-January, General Mills and Mars have also announced they will label genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on their products.

The major manufacturers made the move to comply with a Vermont law that goes into effect July 1. And although the law only applies to Vermont, the two companies said they will label GMOs on product packaging nationwide.

“We can’t label our products for only one state without significantly driving up costs for our consumers and we simply will not do that,” Jeff Harmening, executive vice president and COO for U.S. retail at General Mills, wrote on the company’s blog.

General Mills products with GMO labeling could show up in stores within the next few weeks, but the company is also providing the information on its website. Consumers can simply click on a product to find the percentage of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients the food contains. For example, “some ingredients (generally less than 75% of the product by weight)” in Yoplait are from plants grown using GE seed, while Cheerios “does not contain GE ingredients.”

As for Mars, it will introduce clear, on-pack labeling on products that contain GMOs. The company stresses on its website, though, that genetically modified ingredients are safe: “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.”

The Campbell Soup Co. announced in January that it will begin identifying GMOs on all product packaging, and all three manufacturers have spoken out against state-by-state labeling laws.

“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,” General Mills’ Harmening wrote.  

Mars, too, “supports efforts to find a single, national GMO labeling definition,” company spokesman Jonathan Mudd told TakePart. “We want to avoid a 50-state patchwork of different requirements.”

And the Campbell Soup Co. said patchwork state-by-state labeling laws are “incomplete, impractical and create unnecessary confusion for customers.”