Cereal Giant General Mills to Start Labeling GMOs Nationwide as Vermont Law Looms
General Mills has announced it will start labeling products with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients, becoming the second major food company to make the transition following Campbell Soup’s decision last month.
We need a national solution for GMO labeling https://t.co/JWHzxMwoBh https://t.co/Obo9t5aAP1— General Mills (@General Mills)1458320874.0
The news comes as another blow to Big Food following the Senate's rejection of Sen. Pat Roberts' (R-Kan.) Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (SAFE) Wednesday. The bill, dubbed by opponents as the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, would have prevented states—namely Vermont—from requiring labeling of GMOs and stopped pending state laws that require labeling to go into effect.
Jeff Harmening, head of General Mills’ U.S. retail operations, addressed the national GMO debacle in a letter and explained that since his cereal company will be forced to label GMOs in Vermont by July 1—which is when the state's labeling mandate takes effect—it should also extend GMO labeling to products sold across the nation.
He wrote in a letter, We need a national solution for GMO labeling, posted on the company website:
I have been eagerly awaiting a resolution of the GMO labeling debate in Washington and am disappointed that a national solution has still not been reached.
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.
The Cheerios maker's announcement was praised by GMO labeling proponents. Scott Faber, the Environmental Working Group group's senior vice president of government affairs, said the decision reflects the sentiment of the majority of Americans who want to know if they’re eating GMOs.
"Nine out of 10 Americans want the right to know whether their food contains GMOs—just like consumers in 64 other nations," Faber said. "Like General Mills, we hope Congress will craft a national, mandatory GMO labeling solution and welcome the opportunity to work with industry to find a solution that works for consumers and works for the food industry."
General Mills announced it will label products with genetically modified ingredients. https://t.co/hpXEJBDb5A https://t.co/rsldcbwE4P— Just Label It (@Just Label It)1458324815.0
Gary Hirshberg, chairman of the Just Label It campaign and Stonyfield Farm, also praised General Mills for the move:
General Mills has shown real leadership by committing to provide consumers basic information about their food. More than 60,000 consumers thanked Campbells when they announced their commitment to greater transparency, and I am sure consumers will reward General Mills for trusting consumers to make their own choices. I applaud their leadership for recognizing that consumers simply want to know what’s in their food and how it’s grown.
Senators on both sides of this issue now need to realize that the market place is moving far faster than our legislators, and that the time has come to enact uniform mandatory legislation that makes it easy for consumers to see at a glance whether their foods contain GMOs. If large companies like General Mills and Campbells are accepting that this is what consumers want, then so should our political representatives. It is now time to put this debate behind us and realize that the citizens have spoken.
Besides Campbell Soup, a number of major American companies, such Ben & Jerry's, Chipotle and Whole Foods have either abandoned GMOs or require labeling. Coincidence or not, Campbell has also seen its stock price rise in after making its announcement to ditch GMOs.
According to Green America's GMO Inside, General Mills' food products are "chock full of corn, soy and sugars—ingredients that are almost always genetically modified in the United States," including America’s favorite cereal, Cheerios.
Harmening maintains that genetically engineered foods are safe for human consumption, saying in his letter:
"All sides of this debate, 20 years of research, and every major health and safety agency in the world agree that GMOs are not a health or safety concern," but adds that "at the same time, we know that some consumers are interested in knowing which products contain GMO ingredients."
The labeling of GMOs has been a contentious food fight in recent years. Food and beverage trade organizations such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which represents more than 300 food and beverage titans, argue that a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling policies would be prohibitively costly.
However, as EcoWatch exclusively reported, despite the GMA slapping numerous lawsuits and spending millions in lobbying against mandatory labels at the state and federal level, an internal document indicates that GMA member companies are preparing a transition to labeling their GMO products, or at least in Vermont.
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theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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