US anti-GMO campaigners have singled out General Mills for criticism as they called for increased transparency over whether products contain GMOs.
In an open letter published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Right to Know campaigners wrote General Mills’ brands have been "built on the reputation of trust". However, the group asserts that big food companies like General Mills "spend millions of dollars on anti-labelling initiatives that keep their customers in the dark".
"General Mills claims it wants to be ‘transparent” with consumers on the issue of GMOs," said Heather Kurth Flesland, campaign director of Right to Know . "A company is not transparent when secretly funnelling millions of dollars into anti-GMO labelling campaigns. It’s time for General Mills to start a real dialogue with consumers about their legitimate right to know what”s in the food they eat and buy."
General Mills is a member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which has consistently called for a federal law that requires only voluntary labelling of GMOs.
When contacted by just-food, a General Mills spokesperson said the company’s stance was to support a national approach to GMO labelling and oppose the introduction of state-by-state legislation. "National labelling standards just make sense." The company already offers a number of GMO-free and organic products and General Mills suggested that the organic certification scheme operated in the US could provide a model for how GMO-free labeling could work on a national basis.
The Right to Know campaign is backed by a number of different groups, including Center for Food Safety, Citizens for GMO Labeling, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.
A spokesperson for Right to Know told just-food the letter was the start of a more widespread campaign against General Mills, which includes an online petition. "[The letter] kicks off the anti-GMO labelling campaign against General Mills. The company has spent millions to fight GMO food product labelling. Now, 200,000 consumers have signed a petition against General Mills to have a right to know what’s in the food they buy and eat," the spokesperson said.