Earlier this week, when the U.S. Senate voted against the DARK Act — a bill that would have stopped states from creating individual GMO label laws and also would have made it difficult to create such a law on the federal level — I thought the next big GMO labeling news would be about Vermont's mandatory labeling law, set to be enacted this July.
I was a bit off-base.
Today, General Mills announced it will label GMOs in all its products including all varieties of Cheerios, Progresso soups, Nature Valley granola bars and many more products. (Original Cheerios have been GMO-free since 2014.)
In a statement, General Mills Executive Vice President Jeff Harmening said he was disappointed that a national solution has not been reached in Washington, and since Vermont's labeling laws will soon come into play, the company will label GMOs for the good of their consumer's pocketbooks.
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 statement goes on to say that "we need a national solution."
I hear you, Mr. Harmening, and I agree. Perhaps you can get behind the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, which would create the national solution that 93 percent of Americans say they want: clear GMO labeling on food.
General Mills is not the first large food corporation to voluntarily begin labeling GMOs this year. Campbell's announced that it wanted the federal government to create a mandatory GMO labeling system. If the government cannot get it done in a timely manner, the company that makes soup, Goldfish crackers and more, said it would start voluntarily putting GMO information on its packages.
One thing that struck me as I thought about how great it is that big food companies are starting to voluntarily label GMOs is that they can, at some later point in time, voluntarily stop labeling GMOs. We can't become complacent because some big companies are giving us what we want. The fight to get a federally mandated GMO labeling law in place needs to keep the momentum going. We need to ensure that consumers know what's in their food — not just now while GMOs are a hot topic, but in the future, too.