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In a clear divergence from its CPG counterparts, Campbell Soup Co. has decided to disclose ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on its product labels, giving a huge boost to the movement to mandate labeling of GMOs.
To its credit, the company was frank in its assessment of consumers’ attitude toward the issue. “With 92 percent of Americans supporting the labeling of GMO foods, Campbell believes now is the time for the federal government to act quickly to implement a federal solution,” asserted President and CEO Denise Morrison, adding that even before such legislation was passed, its labels would call out any GMOs in the items it manufactures.
Interestingly, even as it put forward its new policy, the company affirmed its belief in the science supporting the safety of GMOs in foods. To be clear, this isn’t a negation of GMOs; rather, it’s a resolution to treat consumers with the same level of trust and respect that they deserve when making their purchase decisions – even at the risk of a backlash that's bound to follow, in which some shoppers will refuse to purchase their products.
As far as Morrison is concerned, the company’s decision is consistent with Campbell’s values: “[O]ur decision was guided by our Purpose; rooted in our consumer-first mindset; and driven by our commitment to transparency – to be open and honest about our food. I truly believe it is the right thing to do for consumers and for our business.”
As I’ve suggested in a previous commentary, retailers and manufacturers need to be more open with shoppers about GMOs, sharing information, answering questions and even hosting tastings. Accordingly, Campbell’s move is an encouraging first step in a robust, trust-bolstering dialogue between purveyors and consumers of food on the issue, which can only be beneficial in the long run to both sides.
Now that Campbell has publicly broken ranks with the rest of the food manufacturer pack, it only remains to be seen which companies will follow suit with similar policies.