What's in Your Soup? Campbell's Campaigns for Federal GMO Labeling Regulations

By , Melissa Rudy, Health & Fitness Journalist
Earlier this month, the Campbell Soup Company released a statement supporting the federal standardization of food labels for products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). If this legislation passes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will have control over which foods bear that label. In its support of a federally mandated labeling system, Campbell has spoken against a "patchwork" of state-by-state labeling regulations, as the company feels this could lead to confusion and inaccuracies.

Even if the federal mandate is not established, Campbell has announced that—with guidance from the USDA and the FDA—they will modify their own labels to indicate all ingredients that contain or come from GMOs. Campbell's would be the country's first major food company to take this action.

GMOs are created in a laboratory through genetic engineering, as the genetic material of one organism—such as an animal, insect, virus, bacteria or even a human—is injected into another. The primary goal of this process is to protect crops from disease: If a plant is injected with a certain virus, it will theoretically be less susceptible to diseases caused by that virus. GMO plants are also more resistant to herbicides, and can be modified to produce insecticidal toxins.

According to the Non GMO Project, some crops known to contain GMOs include alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, zucchini and yellow summer squash.

There is not any solid evidence that GMOs pose a health hazard to consumers. In fact, Campbell recognizes that GMO foods are "not nutritionally different from other foods," and the FDA recently approved genetically modified salmon. According to a statement on the FDA's website, "foods from genetically engineered plants must meet the same requirements, including safety requirements, as foods from traditionally bred plants."

However, many people are uncomfortable with the idea of eating genetically altered foods, and some major retailers and restaurants are reacting. In response to the growing demand for transparency, Whole Foods is planning to label all GMO products by 2018. Chipotle has also claimed to be "the first national restaurant company to cook only with non-GMO ingredients."
This isn't the first time Campbell has campaigned for greater consumer awareness. They launched a dedicated website, http://www.whatsinmyfood.com, to inform people of the specific ingredients and processes used to make their products. Campbell expects its new labels to be placed within 12 to 18 months of receiving input from the USDA and FDA.

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I worked at Campbell's snack food division companies. I think Campbell's
and the snack food industry need to get on board with the what's in our food labeling. We(USA) have plenty of whole foods readily available to most of us. But the there are places in our world that do not even produce enough food to feed their populations. They have produced preserved food sine 1869. They now sell in 120 countries and have 20,000 employees. They own fresh foods subsidiaries. Maybe we need to educate ourselves how we are going to feed the world not just our USA. Report
Interesting. Report
I have to wonder if the reduction in the bee population is related to the engineering of the plants. The bees started disappearing around the time that this was starting. If the plants are engineered to be toxic to insects...doesn't it make sense? Report
Good for you Campbell's! Report
I have no problem eating food created via crossbreeding and hybridization, that is something that actually can happen without human interference. What I have concerns about are the genetic modifications made by inserting animal genetic material into plants and vice versa, or viral genetic material into plants and animals. They say that it is safe for human consumption, but I would rather be able to decide for myself whether to eat them or not, and I can't make that decision with out knowing which foods are GMO. Report
Campbell's doesn't support labeling so much as they want a Federal Law that supercedes a potential patchwork of state laws with different requirements. The company would probably prefer most of all a Federal Law the banned stated laws about labeling.
BROOKLYN_BORN - No, it isn't your right to know any and all arbitrary details you want about the food you're eating. I don't get mandate that all food tell me if it was made by left-handed people or redheads. Religious people don't get to mandate all food label whether it is Kosher or Halal. People that want to know if GMO's were used don't get to mandate a label for that either. Like religious people, if people want to know if their food is free of GMO's or not, they can pay for that information by purchasing food that labels their food through agencies like the Verified GMO-Free labeling association. Mandated labeling demands that other people pay for you to know information that isn't pertinent to human health.
LILLIPUTIANNA - because just bribing the offices in Vermont would be harder than bribing the USDA? Bribing to do what exactly? All the billions that Exxon and BP have and they've never managed to bribe enough scientists to change the consensus on Global Warming. Report
Typo indeed! US Department of Architecture? Seriously? Are they trying to make government bigger? Hmm Report
"Campbell has spoken against a "patchwork" of state-by-state labeling regulations, as the company feels this could lead to confusion and inaccuracies."

What they MEAN is, they want an agency that is easy to bribe to be in charge. Nice try Campbell's. Report
The GMO movement is silly. Food is genetically modified by our own design, as losingitatnight says, the only difference is that it's now being done in a lab. Sorry BROOKLYN_BORN, it's been done to everything, not just grafted apples. What about your cloned bananas? Or the plants we've been selectively breeding for years? Do you think carrots have always been that big? The food is nutritionally the same and the hydrochloric acid in your stomach breaks it all down. Report
The key about the so-called DARK Act is the state-level labeling. Can you imagine what a nightmare it would be for food companies if they had to ensure compliance with a patchwork of state regulations? Nothing wrong with federal labeling laws but it's still going to cost more to to the consumer. And really, if you want to avoid genetically engineered foods, it's a simple thing to look for labels that say non-GMO or organic. There are only 10 GM crops anyway, so most produce is non-GM already, and then in the processed food aisles you have to assume you're getting GM unless the box says otherwise. And GM is perfectly fine anyway -- there's probably nothing that has been tested more. Report
U.S. Department of Architecture ... typo,I believe you meant to say agriculture. Report
Does Sparkpeople support this action by Campbell's, or is this just information you're passing on? Report
To me there's a difference between grafting a branch of one type of apple tree onto another and manipulating genes in a laboratory. Sorry Losingitatnight, but the first type of cross breeding has been going on for millennia as you say with no ill effects, but GMOs are comparatively new and I WANT to know what's in my food. JUST LABEL IT and let the consumers decide. If you don't mind eating it, go ahead, but don't sneak it in on me.
Also the "federally standardized" bill that was introduced and pushed along by the new congress actually forbid states from requiring GMO labels (the DARK act) - i.e Denying Americans the Right to Know.
Just label it and let me decide if I want to eat it. Report
The whole GMO fuss of course ignores the fact that pretty much all our food, unless we're going out and eating wild animals, has been genetically modified by humans. Instead of in a lab, humans modified the genes of plants and animals over countless generations of breeding to get the desired results. I mean, it even says 'traditionally bred plants' in the article. We've been playing god with our food for millennia, but now people are crying about it because it's the current cool thing to cry about.
I just wish I could figure out what the next big fad of things to hate is going to be so I can profit off of it. Maybe it's rocks. Don't let the big companys put GMO non-organic rocks in your food, people! Open your eyes! Report
Who eats canned soup anyways? Report