What started as a single drop – one big food company announcing it would label for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – is turning at least into a trickle, though not yet a torrent. Kellogg Co. on March 23 joined the small group of major food companies planning to label some of its products for GMOs.
The big cereal company joins Campbell Soup, which started the ball rolling in January, and in recent weeks General Mills and Mars Inc. All have said essentially the same thing: that GMOs are safe, a patchwork of varying state labeling laws would be a mess and they're committing to labeling now because of the inaction of Congress and the looming July 1 effective date of a labeling law in Vermont.
Campbell's announcement, to be fair, sounded unhappy with industry efforts to overturn the Vermont law, make labeling voluntary or otherwise dilute full disclosure.
“At our core, Kellogg believes in transparency and that people should know what’s in their food and where it comes from," read the statement from Paul Norman, president of Kellogg North America. "As a company that sells food in every state, we know that an inconsistent patchwork of labeling laws like the one that goes into effect July 1 in the State of Vermont is confusing and will increase grocery costs for American families and our business.
"We will continue to strongly urge Congress to pass a uniform, federal solution for the labeling of GMOs. In fact, we believe an agreement on one is achievable. But until a federal solution is reached, and in order to comply with Vermont’s labeling law, we will start labeling some of our products nationwide for the presence of GMOs beginning in mid-to-late April. We chose nationwide labeling because a special label for Vermont would be logistically unmanageable and even more costly for us and our consumers.
Norman continued: "We also believe that the food industry should move beyond a debate about labeling and instead engage in a more constructive dialogue about the important role biotechnology can play in the future of food and in feeding a growing population around the world."