State-based labeling laws: Washington I-522

General Mills believes that food labeling regulations should be set at the national level, not state-by-state. 

Our position on Washington’s I-522
General Mills has long opposed state-based labeling laws – and we opposed Initiative 522 (I-522).

State-based labeling laws – with requirements that would differ by state – would result in a patchwork of different labels in different states that would increase the cost of products for companies and consumers alike.

  Related
 

Washington State Public Disclosure Commission web site 

General Mills believes food labeling regulations should be set at the national level, not state-by-state – and most companies hold the same view.

I-522, which was rejected by Washington voters in November 2013, would have required the labeling of some – but not all – food and beverage products sold in Washington state containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. 

General Mills supports a national standard for labeling of non-GMO products. The U.S. standard for organic food products is an excellent model. Organic certification and labeling standards established at the national level – not state-by-state – allow organic food producers to reliably certify and label products as “organic.”  They also provide a clear, consistent labeling standard upon which organic consumers can rely.

General Mills offers organic product choices in most of our major categories in the U.S.  By definition, organic products cannot use GMO ingredients.  In effect, national organic certification and labeling standards enable us to reliably offer consumers non-GMO product choices in most of our major categories across all 50 states.

This is helpful for consumers, and we believe organic certification and labeling could be a national model for labeling non-GMO products in the U.S.  Just as consumers can rely on organic certification and labeling in purchasing organic products, a national standard for labeling non-GMO products would allow consumers to purchase products made without GM ingredients in all 50 states.

Such a system would be substantially more reliable for consumers than differing state standards, and we think it makes much more sense than a patchwork of different labels that would vary from state-to-state.

Because most U.S. farmers use GM seed to grow certain crops, if an American food or beverage product lists corn, soy, canola, cottonseed or beet sugar as an ingredient – and it is not organic – it likely contains GMOs. And 70 percent of foods on U.S. grocery store shelves likely do.

We know some consumers may prefer products made without GMO ingredients, which is why we offer our consumers a choice of organic and non-GMO alternatives in most of our major categories in the U.S.

Consumers looking for non-GMO products would be helped by a non-GMO label, and we believe that would be best advanced by a national labeling standard for non-GMO products – not a patchwork of state-based initiatives like I-522.

For more information about our position on GMOs, view our discussion here.                                                                                                                              

For a second perspective on I-522, a white paper by the Washington Academy of Sciences is available here.  

Reported 2013 contributions in Washington state
General Mills is a member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), and we support their position on labeling. 

The Grocery Manufacturers Association has made and reported a number of 2013 contributions to the “No on I-522 campaign” in Washington State.  Though General Mills did not contribute to the “No on I-522 campaign” directly, we have supported broader efforts by the GMA on labeling and other issues nationally.  GMA assigned and attributed a percentage of member payments to that broader effort as funding its reported contributions to the No on I-522 campaign in Washington, reporting an amount for each company.  For General Mills, that amount totals $869,270.55, as reported on the Washington Public Disclosure Commission web site.

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