General Mills announced Friday in a blog post that it plans to start labeling which of its products contain genetically modified organisms. The move comes in response to a Vermont law, to go into effect later this year, which requires the labeling of GMO products.
The company said that it cannot label its products for only one state without significantly driving up costs for its consumers. The labels will reportedly start appearing on grocery-store shelves over the next several weeks. General Mills, which produces numerous brands including Cheerios, Yoplait and Betty Crocker, also introduced a tool that allows customers to search for products that contain GMOs, according to USA Today. While a number of its products contain GMOs, including Betty Crocker frosting, Chex cereal and Nature Valley bars, General Mills also owns several brands that do not contain GMOs, like Annie’s, Cascadian Farm and Larabar.
“All sides of this debate, 20 years of research, and every major health and safety agency in the world agree that GMOs are not a health or safety concern,” said Jeff Harmening, executive vice-president and chief operating officer for General Mill’s U.S. Retail division, in a blog post . “At the same time, we know that some consumers are interested in knowing which products contain GMO ingredients."
Amid an ongoing debate in Congress over whether GMO labeling should be voluntary or mandatory, Campbell Soup also recently announced that it will adopt GMO labeling. For the most part, the food industry — including the Grocery Manufacturers Association and other organizations — backs voluntary labeling, arguing that GMOs are safe and that a patchwork of state laws regulating them is impractical. However, advocates of mandatory labeling, such as the Environmental Working Group and the Friends of the Earth, sharply oppose voluntary labeling and are fighting state by state to enact mandatory-labeling laws, with the ultimate goal of a national standard.