By Heather Callaghan
You spoke and Campbell’s food company listened. Previously, Campbell’s unveiled plans to run toward the health-conscious organic and non-GMO market dollar. Now, they have dropped one of the biggest publicity bombs ever by announcing their intention to voluntarily label their GMO ingredients.
Part of their previous plans for change included launching several lines of organic kids soups, and removing MSG from all their kids soups, creating organic wheat versions of cracker products, increasing organics across other food lines, removing artificial colors and flavors from nearly all North American products in the next three years, removing high fructose corn syrup from Pepperidge Farm fresh breads, and increasing the transparency of their ingredients, including the launch of a new website; What’s in My Food.
In the first week of January 2016, however, the mammoth company turned heads by “switching sides” and now openly advocating for the national standard of labeling genetically modified ingredients. They will no longer expend funds or energy on blocking the effort to have GM food labeled. Campbell’s might actually become the first major food company to list its GMO ingredients.
The Campbell Soup Co., after years of staunch opposition to mandatory labels, now says that it “will advocate for federal legislation that would require all foods and beverages regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to be clearly and simply labeled for GMOs.”
In a letter to the company’s employees, posted on Campbell’s website, Campbell’s CEO Denise Morrison wrote that the company was responding to the desires of consumers, but it also wanted to avoid multiple and conflicting demands for GMO labeling by individual states. “Printing a clear and simple statement on the label is the best solution for consumers and for Campbell,” Morrison wrote.“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,” they said.
Campbell is optimistic a federal solution can be established in a reasonable amount of time if all the interested stakeholders cooperate. However, if that is not the case, Campbell is prepared to label all of its U.S. products for the presence of ingredients that were derived from GMOs, not just those required by pending legislation in Vermont. The company would seek guidance from the FDA and approval by USDA.In another statement, they wrote:
With 92 percent of Americans supporting the labeling of GMO foods, Campbell believes now is the time for the federal government to act quickly to implement a federal solution.
Vermont passed legislation that will require food companies including Campbell to label products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that may contain ingredients made from GMO crops. However, this legislation does not include products with meat or poultry, because they are regulated by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).The question is – what is the federal solution? The federal stance is to keep labeling as it is with consumers in the dark about whether they are eating genetically modified ingredients or not.
It is the FDA that is actually disappointed with the move, claiming that that GMOs are safe and nutritionally identical to ingredients made from conventionally raised crops. They take on the biotech industry line that labeling consumer food is akin to a warning that will cause unnecessary fear. Campbell’s still supports GMOs and believes them to be safe – they direct consumers to their “What’s In My Food” site which tries to coax consumers that there is no difference and no disparity in safety between GMO ingredients and conventional. It’s clear to see where their true beliefs lie, but they have “broken rank” with the rest of Big Food companies and perhaps will create a domino effect that will support consumer choice.
Campbell’s has expanded the reason for their change of heart, citing a “consumer first” attitude. The expansion also reiterates their belief that GMOs are safe to eat, but they also express that they want consumers to feel good about their choices. Unfortunately, Campbell’s is misleading consumers with these claims as the effects of engineered organisms in the human body were not tested for long-term safety and even minute amounts of glyphosate pesticide have devastating health effects such as breast cancer risks in parts per trillion. See: GMO Myths and Truths
On the other hand, imagine that Big Food starts changing over all the ingredients in their products to benevolent sources. Suddenly, preschoolers, hospital patients, students, the elderly and SNAP users aren’t forced to compromise their health simply because that’s all the companies will provide.
Is this a momentous event, or a letdown? You decide – comment below and don’t forget to SHARE!