Campbell's supports legislation establishing mandatory GMO labeling

NEW YORK -- Campbell Soup says it now supports mandatory national labeling for products containing genetically modified ingredients, and that it will stop backing efforts opposing such disclosures.

See Full Article

The change of heart by the maker of Pepperidge Farm cookies, Prego sauces and Spaghetti-Os marks a break from industry groups that have sought to make labeling voluntary.

About three-quarters of Campbell's products contain GMOs. The company has opposed a patchwork of state-by-state legislation that it believes would confuse customers.

States have tried to address the issue on their own and Vermont passed legislation requiring labeling of genetically modified ingredients on certain products by July. But industry groups want to pre-empt such efforts with federal legislation that would make disclosures voluntary, said Michele Simon, a public health lawyer.

"They're going for as little as they can," Simon said.

If a federal labeling standard isn't established in a "reasonable amount of time," Campbell says it will work independently to disclose the presence of GMOs in its products. The company did not specify a timeline for doing so.

Genetically modified seeds are engineered in laboratories to have certain traits, like resistance to herbicides. The majority of the country's corn and soybean crop is now genetically modified, with much of that going to animal feed. Corn and soybeans are also made into popular processed food ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch and soybean oil.

The food industry says about 75 to 80 per cent of foods contain genetically modified ingredients. The Food and Drug Administration has said that GMOs are safe.

Still, the number of products stamped with a voluntary "non-GMO" label from a third-party group has proliferated as the issue has gained attention. The label, which is displayed on the front of packages, has become a marketing tool in some cases.

Campbell is also calling on the federal government to propose a national standard for "non-GMO" claims made on food packaging.

The company's disclosure of GMO ingredients likely wouldn't be as prominent as the "non-GMO" labels displayed on some products. An image provided by Campbell to illustrate compliance with the Vermont law showed the back of a Spaghetti-Os can with the words "Partially produced with genetic engineering" in small print at the bottom.

The change in position by Campbell comes amid dimming prospects for industry-backed legislation that would prevent states from requiring GMO labeling.

Last month, the industry made an aggressive push to add the federal legislation to a massive year-end spending bill in December, but failed to win enough support. That may have been its best bet before Vermont's law is enacted, although lawmakers say they will keep trying in the coming months.

Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison has been outspoken about the need for big food makers to adapt to changing tastes. The company, based in Camden, N.J., has been diversifying its packaged food lineup with offerings that are seen as fresher.

Its acquisitions in recent years include premium juice and carrot seller Bolthouse Farms and Plum Organics, which makes baby food.

In a message posted online by Campbell Friday, Morrison stressed that the company is in "no way disputing the science GMOs or their safety." But she said GMOs have become a top issue among consumers.

"We have always believed that consumers have the right to know what's in their food," Morrison wrote.


AP Writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed from Washington.


Latest Economic News

  • Muskrat Falls workers moved out after protesters break-in

    Economic CTV News
    Around 700 workers have been moved out of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric site in Labrador as protesters continue to occupy the grounds. Nalcor Energy, the Crown corporation behind the multibillion-dollar project, issued a statement Sunday saying the move was made due to safety concerns. Source
  • Belgium urged to break CETA trade deadlock by Monday night

    Economic CTV News
    BRUSSELS -- Sources say that if Belgium cannot break a deadlock over the European Union's landmark free deal with Canada by Monday night, EU leaders will consider cancelling a signing ceremony scheduled for later in the week. Source
  • Inuit to address world shipping group on Arctic trade

    Economic CTV News
    A delegation of Arctic aboriginals that includes Canadian Inuit will use its first appearance before the group that regulates global shipping to argue that it shouldn't be its last. "The voice of the Arctic has to be heard," said longtime Inuit leader Tagak Curley, one of five presenters from Canada, the United States and Russia. Source
  • Quibble over foreign-exchange charges is part of a bigger trend of class actions

    Economic CBC News
    Eric Finkel noticed something awry when he withdrew cash from an ATM while travelling in Cambodia in 2012 and early 2013. He knew Canadian and U.S. dollars were trading close to par, so he was surprised by the transaction noted on his account — the exchange rate didn't add up. Source
  • Banking firms preparing to leave U.K. ahead of 'Brexit'

    Economic CTV News
    LONDON -- The head of the British Bankers' Association has warned that financial firms are planning to start leaving London within weeks because of uncertainty about the U.K.'s exit from the European Union. Chief executive Anthony Browne said in an article published Sunday that banks fear EU politicians will erect trade barriers with Britain in a bid to undermine the City of London, currently Europe's pre-eminent financial district. Source
  • EU sets Belgium Monday deadline to back CETA, source says

    Economic CBC News
    The European Union has given Belgium's federal government until late on Monday to secure backing for an EU-Canada trade deal from the region of Wallonia or a planned summit to sign the pact will be cancelled, an EU source said on Sunday. Source
  • EU sets Belgium Monday deadline to back CETA

    Economic CBC News
    The European Union has given Belgium's federal government until late on Monday to secure backing for an EU-Canada trade deal from the region of Wallonia or a planned summit to sign the pact will be cancelled, an EU source said on Sunday. Source
  • 'They should fess up:' Customers demand Apple find cure for iPhone 'touch disease'

    Economic CBC News
    What's known as iPhone "touch disease" appears to be spreading and pressure is mounting for Apple to find a cure. However, the tech giant still refuses to talk about it. Touch disease is an affliction of Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models which hit stores in 2014. Source
  • AT&T buying HBO and CNN owner Time Warner for $85.4 billion

    Economic Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — AT&T is buying Time Warner, owner of the Warner Bros. movie studio as well as HBO and CNN, for $85.4 billion in a deal that could shake up the media landscape. The merger combines a telecom giant that owns a leading cellphone business, DirecTV and internet service with the company behind some of the world’s most popular entertainment. Source
  • Clinton camp worried about percieved Keystone XL flip-flop, hacked emails show

    Economic CBC News
    Hacked emails show Hillary Clinton's campaign wrestled with how to announce her opposition to construction of the Keystone XL pipeline without losing the support of labour unions that supported the project. Emails published this past week by WikiLeaks show debate and confusion within the Clinton camp as it faced down the unexpectedly strong primary challenge by liberal Senator Bernie Sanders, who opposed the pipeline. Source