General Mills responds to petition to not oppose state GMO labeling laws

Participating in online petitions are an easy way to make your voice heard and have it count. 

I recently signed one asking General Mills to back off and not oppose state GMO labeling laws that are in process across the country, such as in Washington state. Interestingly enough, The following is the response I just received from General Mills’ Consumer Services division.

General Mills cerealsThank you for your email.

We know consumers care about the foods they eat, and we care about the foods we provide.

You ask us not to oppose state-based labeling laws, but we have long-held that food labeling regulations should be set at the national level, not state-by-state.  Most companies hold the same view, as you may know.

What you may not know is that General Mills has been a strong supporter of a national standard for labeling non-GMO products.

General Mills already offers organic product options – which by definition cannot use GM ingredients – in virtually all our major product categories in the U.S.  (these are very limited selections)  But there is no similar national standard for labeling non-GMO products in the United States.  A national guideline would benefit consumers, and would actually make it easier for companies to reliably offer non-GM product choices.

The U.S. standard for organic food products is an excellent model, in our view.  Organic certification and labeling standards are established at the national level – not state-by-state – allowing organic food producers to reliably certify and label products as “organic.”  They provide a clear, consistent labeling standard upon which organic consumers can rely, regardless of where they live.  In effect, the national organic certification and labeling standard enables General Mills to reliably offer consumers organic product choices in all 50 states.

This is a misleading statement. General Mills’  organic selections are limited to its subsidiary brands: Cascadian Farms, Food Should Taste Great, Lärabar,  Muir Glen and it’s soon-to-be-acquired brand Annie’s. The General Mills brand is non-organic and, with limited exception, blatantly GMO.

The only non-GMO cereal General Mills can boast about

The only non-GMO cereal General Mills can boast about

Similarly, a national standard for labeling non-GMO products would allow consumers to reliably seek and purchase products made without GM ingredients in all 50 states.  It is far preferable, in our view, to a patchwork of different standards and different labels that would vary from state to state increasing costs for companies and consumers alike.

So we have opposed state-based initiatives that would create different labeling standards from state to state, as we’ve explained on our website .  But we do hope you and others will consider joining us in advocating for a sensible national solution to this question.

Thank you again for your email, and for allowing us this opportunity to respond.

Sincerely,

General Mills Consumer Service

It’s important to realize that as part of the push back from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, in 2013 General Mills was part of the larger group that successfully fought the passage of California’s Proposition 37 in 2012 by spending just under $25 million on anti-GMO labeling ads and other materials. General Mills itself donated $1.2 million towards that effort.

If they are in favor of a national labeling act, why assiduously fight every state – and with so much capital expense – to defeat any mandatory labeling? Do they truly want consumers to know what’s in their food, or are they simply blowing smoke? It has to make you wonder.

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