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Campbell Soup Company to Disclose GMOs on its Product Labels

Genetically engineered food products (also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs) have been in the news increasingly of late, particularly as food producers fight back against efforts to require foods that have been genetically modified or contain GMOs to be labeled accordingly. But according to a recent New York Times story, one major company is bucking this trend. Campbell Soup, responsible for brands including Prego, V8, and Pepperidge Farm in addition to its well-known soups, has announced that it will begin to disclose genetically engineered ingredients in its food products. Campbell is also calling for a mandatory federal GMO labeling system. Campbell’s chief executive, Denise Morrison, notes that the company is hopeful that a federal solution can be reached promptly, but that Campbell is prepared to go ahead with labeling all its products regardless.

As the Times reports, Campbell’s action is at least partly a response to Vermont’s new GMO labeling law, which goes into effect in July 2016. Vermont is the first state in the country to enact such a law, requiring food labels to disclose the presence of genetically engineered ingredients. (Pennsylvania legislators tried without success to enact GMO labeling legislation in 2013.) Major food producers, aside from Campbell, favor a voluntary federal labeling requirement as an alternative to having to potentially meet 50 different state requirements.

What are GMOs?

The World Health Organization describes GMOs as “foods derived from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally.”   What this means, as the Genetic Science Learning Center (GSLC) of the University of Utah explains, is that the technology now exists to allow scientists to transfer genes between organisms. The GSLC estimates that 70 percent of all processed foods in the U.S. now contain at least one genetically modified ingredient. The growing capacity to manipulate crops at the genetic level carries with it great promise as well as great risk.

What are the benefits and risks of GMO?

GMOs have the potential to provide solutions to a variety of seemingly intractable real-world problems. For example, plants that have been genetically modified to produce natural pesticides can be grown without using chemical pesticides. Crops engineered to grow in inhospitable climates can bring agriculture to areas of the world that cannot now grow their own food. The GSLC notes that GMOs offer the ability to produce larger, high-quality crops with less time, effort and expense.

But critics of GMOs warn that we do not yet know enough about what the effects of GMOs may be in the long term. The GSLC discusses two of the primary risks:

  • Genetically modified plants may cross-breed with wild plant populations. The effects of this consequence are not yet clear.
  • Food allergies and toxicity might increase from the addition of new genes into various food products. Many people suffer from allergies to nuts, dairy, wheat, eggs, and other foods. Proteins introduced into foods via genetic manipulation may make those foods newly harmful to allergic individuals. And without labeling, consumers remain in the dark about these potential dangers.

Reach out to our law firm to learn more

If you suffer from food allergies and are concerned that you may have been harmed by exposure to GMOs, the experienced Philadelphia personal injury and product liability attorneys of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. can advise you regarding what you should do and what your rights may be. To learn more, contact us today to request a free consultation.

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