Campbell Soup announces support for mandatory GMO labeling

  • The effective date for Vermont’s GM labeling law is July 1, 2016.  As covered previously on this blog, although the food industry hoped that Congress would pass a federal bill preempting GM labeling laws by the states or would include a federal GM labeling fix in the omnibus bill, these hopes were not realized.  Absent a federal legislative solution or a victory in the food industry legal challenge (led by Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)) to the Vermont law in federal court, the food industry must decide how to comply with the new GM labeling requirements in Vermont.
  • On January 7, 2016, Campbell Soup announced its support for mandatory labeling of products that may contain genetically modified organisms and proposed that the federal government provide a national standard for non-GMO claims made on food packaging.  While the company maintains its position that foods derived from genetically engineered crops (GE) are safe and are not nutritionally different from other foods, and that “GMOs and other technologies will play a crucial role in feeding the world”, Campbell has concluded that mandatory federal GMO labeling is the best solution in light of the patchwork of state regulation that has arisen in the absence of federal regulation.
  • Campbell is breaking with GMA and many of its peers in calling for mandatory federal GM labeling. Campbell will become one of the first major food companies that has publicly announced its intent to disclose the presence of GE ingredients in its products on a national level; Denise Morrison, Campbell’s President and CEO, estimates that about three-quarters of the company’s products currently contain ingredients derived from corn, canola, soybeans or sugar beets, the four largest GE crops.  Campbell intends to seek advice from USDA and FDA with regard to the language it may use in its labeling – advice that may have implications for the entire food industry.