Consumers have protested against the inclusion of genetically modified organisms without labeling. The FDA has refused to mandate labeling of products for GMO ingredients. Some companies have accepted their social responsibility and have announced voluntary labeling of GMO ingredients. Campbell is the latest major food company to join the voluntary trend and will disclose the presence of genetically engineered ingredients like corn, soy and sugar beets.
Vermont is one of the few states to mandate labeling based on a voter led initiative which was met with considerable protest by major food companies and manufacturers of genetically engineered products such as Monsanto. Corporations are facing increasing public pressure to increase their ingredient transparency.
A new labeling law in Vermon, has mandated food labeling of GMO ingredients, by July and will require disclosure of genetically engineered ingredients. Campbell is calling for federal action for a uniform labeling system of foods, said Denise Morrison, chief executive of Campbell.
“We’re optimistic that a federal solution can be reached in a reasonable amount of time, but if that’s not the case, we’re preparing to label all our products across the portfolio,” Ms. Morrison said in an interview.
Approximately three-quarters of Campbell’s products derive from corn, canola, soybeans or sugar beets, the four largest genetically engineered crops. The change in labeling is expected to take 12 to 18 months.
“A state-by-state patchwork of laws could be incredibly costly not only for our company but for the entire industry,” Ms. Morrison said. “That’s why we want the federal government to come up with a national standard that is mandatory.”
Campbell will seek advice from the Department of Agriculture and the F.D.A. about what language it might use on its packaging.
“We’ve always believed consumers have a right to know what’s in their food,” Ms. Morrison said. “We know that 92 percent of Americans support G.M.O. labeling, and transparency is a critical part of our purpose.”
“We will withdraw from any coalition that doesn’t support mandatory labeling,” Ms. Morrison said. “We were involved in fighting the state ballots in California and Washington out of concern over a state-by-state patchwork, yet we didn’t participate in the fights in any other state beyond those. Any money we did spend after that was in support of seeking a federal solution.”