CAMPBELL TO BECOME THE FIRST MAJOR FOOD COMPANY TO DISCLOSE G.M.O. INGREDIENTS

Last week, in a surprise business move to differentiate itself from its industry rivals, the Campbell Soup Company announced plans to begin disclosing the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in its food products.  Campbell is the maker of foods like Pepperidge Farm, Prego, V8 and Bolthouse Farms.  For a business profile on Campbell see http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/campbell_soup_company/index.html?inline=nyt-org

In a statement by Denise Morrison, Campbell’s chief executive, Campbell is now supporting efforts to establish a federal law mandating so-called “GMO labeling” of food products. This stance is contrary to the vast majority of Campbell’s food rivals who have spent enormous sums of money, through its trade industry association, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), to defeat GMO labeling referendums in various states. Vermont, Maine and Connecticut have passed GMO-labeling laws and the GMA has been a major player in lobbying Congress to prevent those states from putting those referendums into practice.

Stating its philosophy that “consumers have the right to know what’s in their food”, Campbell is not disavowing the presence of GMO ingredients in its products. Morrison stated:

I want to stress that we’re in no way disputing the science behind GMOs or their safety. The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence indicates that GMOs are safe and that foods derived from crops using genetically modified seeds are not nutritionally different from other foods.

Thus, Campbell will openly disclose — through its new labeling policy — the presence of GMO ingredients in its products.  More than 90% of canola, corn, soybeans and sugar beet crops in the United States are currently grown using GMO seeds according to Campbell.  Campbell has already created the “What’s In My Food” website  http://www.whatsinmyfood.com/ to disclose all ingredients in their products including identifying specific GMO ingredients.

It is too early to tell what impact Campbell’s move will have on its sales and the effect on its competitors who adamantly opposed GMO labeling. “It’s a big deal because it’s breaking ranks with everyone else,” said John Stanton,  a Saint Joseph’s University food marketing professor, who has worked with many big food companies, “I think it can make a big difference.”

Denise Morrison’s statement on behalf of Campbell can be read at: http://www.marketplace.org/2016/01/08/world/big-food-hates-gmo-labels-one-giant-company-disagrees

Professor John Stanton’s statement can be read at:

http://www.marketplace.org/2016/01/08/world/big-food-hates-gmo-labels-one-giant-company-disagrees

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