Jennifer Lea Reynolds
March 29, 2016
In order to comply with Vermont’s GMO food labeling law set to go into effect in July 2016, General Mills has announced that they’ll begin to label products of theirs which contain genetically modified ingredients. The company’s decision also comes in the wake of the recent Senate vote that struck down the DARK Act’s efforts which would have kept GMO labeling laws at bay and consumers unaware of what they’re feeding their children. That Senate vote took place on a Wednesday; by Friday that same week, General Mills announced their labeling plans.
Yes, indeed, it would appear that the Frankenfood industry is finally shaking in their boots, responding as they should have been all along. As more and more health-conscious Americans are demanding to know what goes in the foods they eat, questionable food practices and the mega industries that churn them out are finally taking action.
It’s taken quite a bit of arm twisting to do something that frankly shouldn’t even be given a second thought, but at least steps are being taken that demonstrate the power of the people when they remain persistent in their right-to-know efforts. Granted, there’s still a long way to go, but it’s refreshing to see companies coming out of the woodwork to keep the health of their customers in mind, rather than only latch on to whether or not it will make them mega bucks.
Details behind General Mills’ decision
On the General Mills website, Jeff Harmening, an executive vice president and chief operating officer for U.S. Retail at General Mills, penned a blog post announcing the company’s GMO-labeling decision.
“I have been eagerly awaiting a resolution of the GMO labeling debate in Washington and am disappointed that a national solution has still not been reached,” Harmening wrote. “As the discussions continue in Washington, one thing is very clear: Vermont state law requires us to start labeling certain grocery store food packages that contain GMO ingredients or face significant fines. 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. The result: consumers all over the U.S. will soon begin seeing words legislated by the state of Vermont on the labels of many of their favorite General Mills products.”
The remainder of his blog reinforces the idea that a national standard is needed in order to resolve the GMO labeling issue, while also directing consumers to the company website, where they can learn more about “GMO ingredient information for hundreds of our U.S. products, along with reference information.”
Grocery Manufacturers Association not pleased with Vermont’s law or company’s GMO labeling effort, focuses on business expenses over consumer health
However, not everyone is thrilled with the company’s choice. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, for example, seems to have their minds strictly on dollar signs, seeing General Mills’ effort as financially devastating.
The Association, a trade group which includes General Mills and which previously drew negative attention over money laundering, maintains that Vermont’s labeling law has created “serious problems for business,” adding in a statement, “Food companies are being forced to make decisions on how to comply and having to spend millions of dollars. One small state’s law is setting labeling standards for consumers across the country.”
Meanwhile, it’s perfectly fine if it works the other way around, right? In other words, one company can continue providing unhealthy ingredients in their foods, making sure their standards are the norm for consumers across the country. It’s all right to spend millions of dollars to essentially poison Americans with GMO-laden foods but not all right to spend millions of dollars to take steps to undo the damage and help restore people’s health? We fail to see the logic in the Association’s statement.
“This shows that the United States has the capacity to join the 64 other countries that already require GMO labeling,” Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said. “I urge other companies to follow the lead of General Mills and extend this right to their customers nationwide as well.”