In a move to make its ice cream more environmentally friendly, Ben & Jerry’s has announced that it will remove genetically modified organisms entirely from its products.
According to a statement on the company’s website, the ice cream sold in Canada and the U.S. is about 80 percent non-GMO, while in Europe, it’s 100 percent. The goal is to have GMO ingredients completely phased out by the end of the year. The transition will take at least that long because of the wide range of flavors and ingredients involved, the company said.
“Because we’re Ben & Jerry’s, we’re all about lots of flavors with lots of chunks & swirls — and that means lots of ingredients to transition,” the company said in a blog post on its website in April.
“While most of our ingredients are already sourced non-GMO, we decided to take this opportunity to also source any ingredient that can be Fairtrade certified as such. Our goal is for all of our flavors to be Fairtrade certified and sourced with non-GMO ingredients by the end of the year.”
The Vermont-based company will also make changes so that its packaging “will be labeled with respect to GMO by the end of 2013."
While there have long been disputes over the safety of GMOs in food, there's a broad scientific consensus that food on the market derived from genetically modified crops pose no greater risk than conventional food. The increasing use of GMOs has provoked advocates to push for more stringent GMO labeling.
GMO labeling is already required in several European countries, but legislative attempts to bring it to the U.S. have failed thus far. Last year, California voters rejected Proposition 37, a ballot initiative that would have required GMO labeling. Several large companies, including Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON) and Hersey Co. (NYSE: HSY), donated millions in opposition.
In March, Congress caused an uproar when it passed HR 933, a spending bill that included a provision banning federal courts from halting the sale of GMOs, protecting companies that sell them from liability in the event that they are proven to be harmful. The bill became popularly known as the “Monsanto Protection Act.”
Grocery chain Whole Foods Market Inc. (NASDAQ: WFM) also announced earlier this year that it would label all products containing GMOs by 2018.