One of the Biggest Opponents of GMO Labeling Is Offering More Non-GMO Products
Cargill believes genetically modified foods are safe, but losing consumers' favor might be a more expensive setback than sticking to its pro-GMO guns.
Cargill, a giant privately held food manufacturer, is one of the biggest enemies of laws requiring companies to label products that contain genetically modified ingredients. But even as the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), an anti GMO-labeling lobbying group Cargill belongs to, fights GMO-labeling laws in state legislatures and courthouses around the country, Cargill is introducing more GMO-free products.
Last week, Cargill announced its newest non-GMO crop, soybean oil, which will join corn and beans on Cargill's list of unmodified products offered in the United States, among others.
Gregory Page, the chairman of Cargill's board, sits on the executive board for the GMA, the big-food lobbying group that recently sued Vermont for passing a bill requiring food manufacturers to label genetically modified foods. The company warns on its website that mandatory labeling can be "misleading" to consumers who might believe genetic modification and bioengineering in food is dangerous. A GMO label does not provide any meaningful information about the food, Cargill argues, because GMO foods are "substantially equivalent" to non-GMO foods.
But despite this, Cargill seems to see the benefit in offering consumers the option of eating unmodified foods. "Despite the many merits of biotechnology, consumer interest in food and beverage products made from non-GM ingredients is growing, creating opportunities and challenges for food manufacturers and food service operators," Ethan Theis, a spokesman for the company, said in a company press release last week. Even the fiercest opponents of GMO labeling are willing to offer non-GMO products when consumers' cash is on the line.