General Mills Will Label GMO Products; Calls For National Labeling Standard

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

Earlier this week, the Senate narrowly shot down a piece of legislation that would have created a voluntary national standard for labeling food products containing genetically modified ingredients while also overturning any state laws mandating GMO labels. With that bill dead, it means Vermont’s label mandate is on track to kick in this summer, so General Mills has decided to comply, while still calling for national consensus.

In a blog post published today, General Mills exec Jeff Harmening admits being “disappointed that a national solution has still not been reached” on GMO labeling while acknowledging that the company could face significant fines if it doesn’t start labeling its products to comply with Vermont state law.

“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,” writes Harmening. “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 Harmening might come across as a bit grumpy in the post, he may have a valid argument about the possible logistical nightmare of trying to comply with a patchwork of labeling laws from various states.

It’s also possible — though he doesn’t point this out — that if more major national companies like General Mills choose to label all U.S. products, regardless of which state they are sold, then there’s the likelihood that other states won’t introduce their own legislation because it would be redundant.

Campbell Soup Co. — which makes a heck of a lot more than soup under brands including Pepperidge Farm, Bolthouse Farms, Arnott’s, V8, Swanson, Pace, Prego, and others — has already begun labeling its GMO-containing products, even though the company has lobbied against labeling laws in multiple states.

While making the point that there is significant science on the side of GMO food being safe to eat, Harmening concedes that “some consumers are interested in knowing which products contain GMO ingredients.”

In fact, a recent survey by our colleagues at Consumer Reports found that 90% of people want GMO labels; that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t buy the foods, they simply want to be informed.

The rollout of General Mills products will begin in the coming weeks, the company tells the AP, with the goal of meeting the July deadline for the Vermont labeling law.

In the meantime, the company has a website,, where consumers can click on specific products for more information on which items might contain genetically modified ingredients.

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