GM labelling law will not require info on label

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Food companies in the United States are getting out ahead of a pending national mandatory labelling law for genetically modified food.

Campbell Soup Co. was one of the first major food companies to break ranks and come out in support of mandatory labelling. It started printing labels on its own products in early 2016.

“Campbell took a different approach on GM labelling, much to the consternation of some in the industry,” said Kelly Johnston, the company’s vice-president of government affairs. “It’s not because we are anti-GMO. We’re not.”

The company has not transitioned away from GM food ingredients, but it felt compelled to let consumers make informed decisions about what they’re putting in their bodies.

“We’re in almost every pantry in the United States,” Johnston told delegates attending Bayer’s AgVocacy Forum. “So when consumers are starting to tell us they’re very concerned about GMOs, we knew we had to do something.”

Johnston said it is impossible to know what impact the labels have had on sales because there are a multitude of factors that influence purchase decisions. However, he believes it has had minimal impact.

“We’re not seeing a large, wholesale buying pattern change.”

The U.S. is expected to implement a mandatory GM labelling law by July 2018. Canada does not have any similar legislation.

Some groups have criticized the U.S. law because it allows companies to opt out of printing information directly on the label by providing QR codes that can be scanned with smartphones or a 1-800 number that consumers can call.

Roger Lowe, vice-president of communications with the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said more than 5,100 products from 26 companies are already using QR codes or smart labels to tell consumers whether there are GM ingredients in those products.

“We are projecting that there will be 34,000 products that use this by the end of the year,” he said.

Lowe said food companies are embracing transparency.

“They know it’s the way to go,” he said. “They’re not waiting for a law to go into effect.”

He said smart labels can provide all sorts of information to consumers, not just whether the product contains GM ingredients.

For instance, they can supply warnings about potential allergens.

They also allow companies to explain what GM ingredients are and how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has deemed them safe to consume.

Randy Russell, president of the Russell Group, an agriculture lobbying firm that influenced the design of the federal labelling law, said there are practical limitations to putting GM labels directly on food packages.

“When you pick up the average food product today, the entire food package is full of print. Where are we going to put more information?” he said.

Russell said less than half of consumers read the nutrition facts panel on food products. However, smart labels are ideal for those who are concerned about what they are eating because they can provide a plethora of information.

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Comments

  • Harold

    This Article clearly exposes the mind of greed and greed’s desire to hide in secrecy, and it’s contempt for the freedom of consumer choice. On the other hand, Campbell’s and other companies without contempt have dismissed the consumer encumbering nonsense of QR codes and 1-800 -“your call is important” numbers, in favor of a simple small logo that simply says: No GMO; no phone call – no technology necessary – continue shopping. If the consumer does not want any GMO in the product, the QR and 1-800 are absolutely useless. When the focus is only upon GM, the QR and 1-800 are an exercise to make complicated the simple and promote consumer exhaustion to aid the GMO cover. Is the consumer expected to make a hundred phone calls and a hundred Web site indoctrination visits just to have one question answered? The nonsense and contempt is such as sitting at a restaurant without a menu and without bringing your phone, (QR, 1-800) there is no service. I pay for my cell phone for my convenience and not for the convenience of the Food Industry unless they wish to pay my monthly phone and Internet Bills. Industries with no cost to their own overhead are forcing their compliances and taking advantage of the public’s cell phone debts, and our debt, is an advantage to their profits and their greed. Is there something wrong with this picture of entitlements? Consumers should step back from this unprincipled abuse of their money and convenience with a resounding “don’t call me – I’ll call you” attitude. I would tell the food Industry that when I shop, I only need one little “no GMO” logo and if there are too many ingredients to list on any package, it stays on the shelf anyways; less is always more and at my convenience I will let you know with my dollar, but not my cell phone, that QR and 1-600-cover numbers will remain on the shelf. I wonder if the Food Industry thinks that I the consumer am their employee. If they thought so, it could explain the rational of their thinking, but I have yet to collect their pay cheque. Hmm…. obedience without pay; how the tables have turned.

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