Stating it recognizes that GMOs are safe, the manufacturer said it believes there should be a national standard in the US for labeling genetically modified organisms. It also declared that if a federal scheme could not be established it will introduce its own GMO labelling scheme.
Campbell president and CEO Denise Morrison issued a statement to employees about the decision, in which she explained the business had opposed the previous “state-by-state patchwork approach” to labeling introduction (see below).
She also criticized legislation passed in Vermont that requires GMO labeling on products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but does not include products with meat or poultry as they are regulated by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“Under Vermont law, SpaghettiO’s original variety, guided by the FDA, will be labeled for the presence of GMO but SpaghettiO’s meatballs, guided by the USDA, will not,” she stated. “Yet these two varieties sit next to each other on a store shelf, which is bound to create consumer confusion.”
Campbell’s announcement stated it will advocate for federal legislation that will require all foods and beverages regulated by the FDA and USDA to be “clearly and simply labeled”.
Withdrawal from opposing groups
“As a result of its decision to support mandatory national GMO labeling, Campbell will withdraw from all efforts led by coalitions and groups opposing such measures,” said Campbell in its statement. “The company continues to oppose a patchwork of state-by-state labeling laws, which it believes are incomplete, impractical and create unnecessary confusion for consumers.”
The manufacturer said it was optimistic a federal solution can be established “in a reasonable amount of time if all the interested stakeholders cooperate”. It added that if this did not happen it would label all its US products for the presence of GMOs-derived ingredients - not just those required by the pending Vermont legislation - and would seek guidance from the FDA and approval by USDA.
Campbell boss: why we are backing mandatory GMO labels
Campbell’s President and CEO Denise Morrison issued a statement to employees about the reasons behind the company's decision to support GMO labeling. Here are edited excerpts from that statement:
“We have always believed that consumers have the right to know what’s in their food. GMO has evolved to be a top consumer food issue reaching a critical mass of 92% of consumers in favor of putting it on the label.
“Put simply, although we believe that consumers have the right to know what’s in their food, we also believe that a state-by-state piecemeal approach is incomplete, impractical and costly to implement for food makers. More importantly, it’s confusing to consumers.
Trips to Capitol Hill
“Campbell has been actively involved in trying to resolve this issue since 2011. We’ve worked with GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association), legislators and regulators to forge a national voluntary solution. We’ve engaged a variety of stakeholders, from lawmakers to activists. I’ve personally made multiple trips to Capitol Hill to meet with elected officials.
“Despite these efforts, Congress has not been able to resolve this issue. We now believe that proposing a mandatory national solution is necessary.
“Printing a clear and simple statement on the label is the best solution for consumers and for Campbell.
“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.
“Ingredients derived from these crops are in many of our products.”