NEW YORK (AP) — Campbell Soup says it supports federal legislation that would establish a mandatory national labeling standard for products containing genetically modified ingredients.
About three-quarters of the company's products have GMO ingredients and Campbell opposes a patchwork of state-by-state laws that it believes would confuse consumers.
The maker of Pepperidge Farm cookies, Prego sauces and Spaghetti-Os says it will withdraw its support from various groups and coalitions opposing standardized labeling, which has become a contested issue in recent years.
States have tried to address the issue on their own and Vermont passed legislation requiring food makers to disclose when certain products contain genetically modified ingredients by July. Industry groups have argued for federal legislation that would pre-empt such efforts, and make disclosures voluntary, said Michele Simon, a public health lawyer.
"They're going for as little as they can," Simon said.
If a federal labeling standard isn't established in a "reasonable amount of time," Campbell says it will work independently to disclose the presence of GMOs in its products. The company did not specify a timeline for doing so.
Campbell, based in Camden, N.J., provided an image of a Spaghetti-Os can with a label complying with the Vermont legislation. On the back of the can in small print, the disclosure stated "Partially produced with genetic engineering."
In the meantime, the number of products stamped with a voluntary "non-GMO" label from a third-party group has proliferated as the issue has gained more attention among consumers. The label, which is more prominently displayed on the front of packages, has become a marketing tool in some cases.
PepsiCo, for instance, has said it will start labeling some of Tropicana juices as "non-GMO," even though genetically modified oranges do not exist.