Ahead of the July 1st implementation of Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law, General Mills has announced that it will now include the required labeling on all of its food packaging, including products not sold in the state.
The company stated in a press release:
We can’t label our products for only one state without significantly driving up costs for our consumers and we simply will not do that. The result: consumers all over the U.S. will soon begin seeing words legislated by the state of Vermont on the labels of many of their favorite General Mills products.
While General Mills has been embroiled in the anti-GMO controversy before, I can’t say that I actually blame the company this time. I’m staunchly against GMO labeling, including the certified non-GMO label, because it stigmatizes a technology that science has demonstrated is safe and effective. Heck, even General Mills as much. Nonetheless, this move by General Mills just makes sense.
Think about it. If you’re a company that sells your product across the nation, including into Vermont, the easiest thing for you to do is simply make all of your packaging comply with the labeling law. It doesn’t make sense economically to make one package for your products that will ship into Vermont, and a different package for your products that will ship into the other states. While some have suggested companies simply stop selling into the state to avoid this result, we know that this isn’t realistic and companies are not going to forgo profits from an entire state.
See, this is the scariest part about the Vermont law – it will be a de facto national mandatory GMO labeling law.
The Vermont law is, quite frankly, a giant pile of crap. It’s confusing, contradictory, and misleading for consumers. Companies are having difficulty complying with it. It carves out labeling exceptions for special Vermont interests. Like other labeling laws, it will raise the cost of food for families in Vermont, and around the country. It’s just bad.
So, why should a bunch of state legislators in a small northeastern state get to dictate that products across the country must carry a specific label?
Part of this is the fault of the United States Senate. The House passed a bill last summer that would have preempted the Vermont law, but the Senate failed last week to pass a companion bill to go along with it. For some reason, our elected officials cannot seem to come up with any sort of compromise for this really big problem. Do they really think the answer is just to let Vermont make decisions for the entire country?
And what exactly happens when other states pass GMO labeling laws that conflict with Vermont’s laws? If Michigan passes a labeling law, it would likely exempt its own special products from the law. Will companies be forced to come up with products with different packaging for each state? Likely, the most restrictive state GMO labeling law would become the standard which companies use to comply. It would literally be a race to the bottom.
Like I stated, I’m not a fan of GMO labeling laws, but we have to acknowledge that this horrific Vermont law is now going to be essentially a national law. And that’s why it is so, so, so important for the federal government to take action. While I don’t want to see a mandatory national law, we can certainly have some type of certified non-GMO label. That way, the people that actually think such a pointless label means something can pay extra for it. At this point, this is the only way we can stop one state from imposing a terrible law on the entire country.