Mars latest major US food company to announce plans for nationwide GMO labels

Mars latest major US food company to announce plans for nationwide GMO labels

Mars Inc is to put labels on foods on sale in the US that contain genetically-modified ingredients.

The US giant is bringing in the labels to meet the upcoming regulations in Vermont, which will mandate the use of GMO labels from July. Mars, which owns brands from Snickers chocolate to Uncle Ben's rice, said its labels would be on food across the US.

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

On Friday (18 March), General Mills announced plans to label products containing genetically modified ingredients across the US.

The Cheerios owner said it would the labels would use terminology laid down under regulations set to come into force in the state of Vermont in July.

There is growing interest among US consumers about what goes into the food they eat. There is debate in the US over whether genetically-modified ingredients are a threat to human health despite their use in the country's food supply for decades.

Mars said: "We firmly believe GM ingredients are safe. Food developed through biotechnology has been studied extensively and judged safe by a broad range of regulatory agencies, scientists, health professionals, and other experts around the world."

There is a growing swell of opinion supporting the introduction of GMO labels, with consumer advocates and parts of the food industry - predominantly the organic sector - calling for regulation. In January, Campbell Soup Co. voiced its support of the introduction of nationwide mandatory labelling standards. US industry body, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, concerned about the possibility of different laws coming in at state level, is pushing for national labels - but on a voluntary basis.

Last week, the US Senate blocked a federal bill calling for the nationwide voluntary labelling of GMO ingredients. The bill would have superseded state legislation. Supporters of the bill, including the GMA, argue state-by-state labels will drive up costs for consumers and lead to confusion among shoppers.