Campbell's Changes the GMO Debate

gmo debate

On January 7, Campbell’s Soup announced they will be supporting a federal policy requiring that food ingredient labels include the listing of genetically modified ingredients when they exist. They further announced they will no longer support food industry efforts to defeat federal and state-based labeling initiatives. What’s more, if the federal government doesn’t act in a timely manner, Campbell’s has said it will start including GMO listings voluntarily.

The Radical Notion of Listening to Consumers

In making this announcement, Campbell’s has shown respect for the wishes of over 90% of American consumers and acknowledged that consumers in general have a right to know what’s in the food they’re feeding themselves and their families.

That doesn’t mean Campbell’s has changed its stance on GMOs in general. They haven’t. Campbell’s still believes genetically modified organisms are perfectly safe for human consumption and will play a crucial role in feeding the world.

Beliefs, Not Science

It’s important to emphasize that both those points are beliefs, not truths, since there is no verifiable scientific evidence that either are true. In fact, when it comes to feeding the world, the overwhelming non-GMO-industry consensus is that giving people around the world the ability to control and manage their own food supply, rather than relying on engineered food from a monolithic American food industry, is a much better and sustainable alternative.

Non-GMO Reactions

Ronnie Cummins, International Director for the Organic Consumers Association, had this to say in the OCA’s initial statement:

“The decision by Campbell’s sends a clear message to Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association which have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat GMO labeling laws. And unless Campbell’s announces price hikes resulting from these new labels, this move proves that industry threats that labels will makes products more expensive have been nothing more than empty fear mongering.”

In a follow-up email to the OCA, Campbell’s spokesman Tom Hushen wrote, “To be clear, there will be no price increase as a result of Vermont or national GMO labeling for Campbell products.” Empty fear mongering it is, then.

Keep an Eye Out for Stealth Marketing

It’s not likely GMO supporters will let up, though. They’ve changed the arguments of all labeling debates to insist labeling supporters want to ban GMOs entirely, when that has never been the goal or substance of any initiative. And now, they’re appearing on political and social-media sites in discussions about climate change, suggesting the people who are suspicious of genetically altered food are the same anti-science folks refuting climate change.

Don’t believe them. There is nothing close to a 97% scientific agreement on the safety of GMOs. In fact, the consensus is, the GMO industry – and its two largest cheerleaders, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Associations – have yet to do the required work to earn a place in a quality of science discussion.

Smart Marketing

As for Campbell’s, they’ve proven themselves to be both attentive (if not concerned) and savvy marketers. Getting out ahead of the GMO controversy and taking the side of over 90% of American consumers allows them to be the good guys. Monsanto and the GMA, on the other hand, continue to be more and more associated with the other side.

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