GMO Labelling Issues Impacting Food Manufactures

Annie Gasparro and Jacob Bunge reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “The U.S. food industry is fighting one of its fiercest regulatory battles in years over labels for ingredients made with genetically modified organisms. And it is losing—to Vermont.

“The country’s first law requiring mandatory GMO labels is slated to go into effect in Vermont on July 1 after an industry-backed federal law that would block states’ authority stalled in the U.S. Senate last week. Facing fines up to $1,000 a day per product, food makers from giants like General Mills Inc. to regional businesses like Vermont Fresh Pasta are making big adjustments, many of which extend beyond the state’s borders.

“Vermont is a tiny market for most companies, but the integrated nature of supply chains gives it an outsize effect. On Friday, General Mills said it is slapping GMO labels on its packaged food nationwide, saying it would be too complex and expensive to create a separate distribution network for the 626,000-person state of Vermont.”

The writers pointed out that, “Some companies, fearing such labels will be a sort of scarlet letter and scare off consumers, are replacing ingredients altogether. Vermont Fresh Pasta, which touts its fresh, local fare, said it has swapped out canola oil, which typically contains GMOs, for olive oil, which has no genetically modified version.”

And today’s Journal article added that, “Other businesses appear confused about whether they need to use special labels.

“Food is exempt from labeling in Vermont if it is a direct animal product like meat and eggs, is certified as non-GMO, if none of the ingredients have a genetically modified version, or if the GMO ingredients make up less than 0.9% of the product’s weight.”

Meanwhile, a separate article today at The Wall Street Journal Online stated that, “Candy maker Mars Inc. joins a small group of U.S. food companies adding special labels to products that contain genetically modified organisms.

“Mars, which makes M&M’s chocolate and Wrigley gum, said it is adding GMO labels to its foods across the U.S. in response to the looming deadline of a Vermont law that requires such disclosure.”

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