- Food industry players are making their opinions known regarding the effects of mandatory labeling being sought by state governments, like Vermont, through a six-figure Washington area marketing campaign.
- The campaign's message is that GMO labeling would be harmful to farmers, raise food prices, and prevent food companies from serving the world's growing malnourished population.
- Food labeling advocates don't have the access to capital that the food industry has and can't mount a campaign of similar magnitude in response, but these advocates do have a strong lobbying presence and the consumer support.
Food manufacturers are concerned about the potential costs that state-sanctioned mandatory GMO labeling policies could have regarding the special labels that would be needed for tens of thousands of products only in those states. They also fear the backlash GMO labels could have, with consumers potentially avoiding GMO-containg products. However, research has found that GMO labels may not affect their purchasing decisions.
Legislators who back a voluntary GMO labeling law contributed to the passing of a House bill which would do away with state labeling regulations. GMO labeling was being debated in the Senate Agriculture Committee, but a finalized bill never made it to the floor. Efforts were made to include voluntary GMO labeling in an omnibus spending bill passed in December, but the labeling initiatives weren't included. Congress has pledged to tackle GMO labeling this session.
Campbell Soup has taken a different stance on GMO labeling, by not only throwing its support behind national legislation for mandatory labeling but also committing to label its own GMO products over the next 12 to 18 months.
Companies have begun reformulating their products with non-GMO ingredients or re-labeling their already non-GMO products, such as PepsiCo's move to label Tropicana products as non-GMO.
Food companies are hoping that the Grocery Manufacturers Association's SmartLabel, a scannable QR code, will enable consumers to get the information they need about a product without that information having to appear directly on the label.