How Vermont’s GMO Labeling Law is Affecting Big Food Manufacturers

Posted by Hannah Broaddus

Vermont is the first state to pass a law requiring foods sold within it’s borders to have GMOs labeled.

This law, which originally passed in 2014, will go into effect on July 1, 2016. This small law is creating big ripples, and with the July deadline looming, major food manufacturers are changing their packaging to include voluntary GMO labeling on a national scale to meet Vermont’s requirements.

Why not make the change for just the food they sell in Vermont? The current retail distribution system is set up on a national scale: manufacturers sell to distributors, and these distributors sell to many different retailers throughout the US. Any state-specific labeling changes would add big costs both in packaging and in the segregation systems that would be required throughout the distribution channels.

This means that the laws for this one tiny state has made big food manufacturers go through some major labeling changes. Even though a national GMO labeling law hasn’t passed through federal government, the requirement for this one state is essentially having the same effect as a national requirement, and large brands are preparing for the changes they will have to make.


General Mills Is Now Labeling GMOs

General Mills has now begun labeling GMOs on their food products because of Vermont’s requirements. In an official statement on March 18th, 2016, the Executive VP and COO Jeff Harmening, stated:

“As the discussions continue in Washington, one thing is very clear: Vermont state law requires us to start labeling certain grocery store food packages that contain GMO ingredients or face significant fines.

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.

With the Vermont labeling legislation upon us, and with the distinct possibility that other states will enact different labeling requirements, what we need is simple: We need a national solution.” Source



Mars Inc, parent company of M&M’s, Snickers & Twix recently has added a statement onto their M&M’s packaging to comply with Vermont’s law. On their website they explain:

“In 2014, the state of Vermont passed a mandatory genetically modified (GM) ingredient labeling law that requires most human food products containing GM ingredients to include on-pack labeling as of July 2016. To comply with that law, Mars is introducing clear, on-pack labeling on our products that contain GM ingredients nationwide.” Source



Who Else Is Labeling GMOs?

Other major brands are also taking the plunge to begin labeling GMOs on their products. Both Kellogg Co. and Conagra Foods Inc. announced in late March that they'll begin labeling foods made with genetically modified organisms.

"At Kellogg, we strongly believe in transparency, and that people should know what’s in their food and where it comes from," said Paul Norman, president, Kellogg North America. "We continue to strongly urge Congress to pass a uniform, federal solution for the labeling of GMO.s to avoid a confusing patchwork of state-by-state rules.” Source

Campbell’s also starting prepping for this change earlier this year.



My Opinion

I find all of these changes exciting, and a wonderful demonstration of the power of the consumer voice to change industry standards far faster than the typical bureaucratic process could. In less than 5 years, this topic has come into full industry focus because of the power of the consumer.

Topics: Industry Trends



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