Some Food Companies Are Quietly Dumping GMO Ingredients : The Salt : NPR

A tour of the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, Vt., includes a stop at the “Flavor Graveyard,” where ice cream combinations that didn’t make the cut are put to rest under the shade of big trees.One recently deceased flavor has yet to be memorialized there: Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, one of the company’s best-sellers.

Ben & Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim says the company had to remove the key ingredient, Heath bars made by Hershey, and rework the flavor. Its replacement is called Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch. Some fans have blasted the company in online forums, claiming it doesn’t taste as good.The reason for the change? Hershey makes Heath bars with genetically engineered ingredients, and Ben & Jerry’s has made a pledge to remove all GMO ingredients from its ice cream.

The company has taken a vocal stand in recent years in support of states looking at legislation that would require manufacturers to disclose food that is made with genetic engineering. And Vermont recently passed a law that will require labeling starting in 2015. Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield recently launched a campaign to help fill the coffers of Vermont’s crowd-sourced defense fund set up to combat lawsuits over its labeling law.

The news that Ben & Jerry’s is taking a stand on a controversial issue is no surprise; it’s part of the company’s calling card. But some other mainstream companies are carefully — and much more quietly — calibrating their non-GMO strategies.General Mills’ original plain Cheerios are now GMO-free, but the only announcement was in a company blog post in January.

And you won’t see any label on the box highlighting the change. Grape Nuts, another cereal aisle staple, made by Post, is also non-GMO. And Target has about 80 of its own brand items certified GMO-free.

via Some Food Companies Are Quietly Dumping GMO Ingredients : The Salt : NPR.

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Grocers Sue Vermont Over GMO Food Label Law – ABC News

Grocers Sue Vermont Over GMO Food Label Law

The Grocery Manufacturers Association and other industry groups challenged a new Vermont law in federal court Thursday that requires the labeling of food made with genetically modified organisms.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Burlington, had been expected since Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the state’s GMO labeling law last month, making Vermont the first in the nation to require the labeling.

The suit asks a judge to overturn the law and describes it as “a costly and misguided measure that will set the nation on a path toward a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling policies that do nothing to advance the health and safety of consumers.” The lawsuit claims that food made with GMOs is safe and says the Vermont law exceeds the state’s authority under the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ruled that food from genetically modified plants is not materially different from other food. But critics of GMO foods consider them environmentally suspect and a possible health threat.

Maine and Connecticut also have adopted GMO label laws, but their laws require neighboring states to follow suit before their requirements go into effect. New York lawmakers are working on a GMO labeling bill, as well. And if it becomes law, Connecticut’s law would automatically take effect.

The Vermont law, due to take effect in two years, calls for the labeling of processed GMO foods and for retailers to post signs on displays of unpackaged genetically engineered foods. It also sets a civil penalty of $1,000 per day per product for “false certification.” The entire product, not each individual item or package, would be subject to the penalty.

Restaurants would be exempt from the requirements.

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell said Thursday he hadn’t seen the lawsuit, but his office has been preparing to defend the law and “we’re ready to fight.”

Shumlin said Vermont will continue to push for what he calls common-sense labeling on packaged foods that contain GMOs.

“Now, as we expected all along, that fight will head to the courts,” he said.

When Shumlin signed the GMO labeling legislation last month he announced the creation of a website to help the state raise money to pay for the legal battle, which could cost the state millions. It’s unclear how much money is in the fund.

The grocers also argue that it would be difficult if not impossible for the industry to meet the requirements of the new law.

“They must revise hundreds of thousands of product packages, from the small to the super-sized,” the suit said. “Then, they must establish Vermont-only distribution channels to ensure that the speech Vermont is forcing them to say, or not say, is conveyed in that state.”

Many in the food industry say the GMO technology boosts food production and its use is less environmentally harmful than traditional farming methods.via Grocers Sue Vermont Over GMO Food Label Law – ABC News.

Vermont Will Require Labeling of Genetically Altered Foods – NYTimes.com

Vermont Will Require Labeling of Genetically Altered Foods - NYTimes.com

Vermont Will Require Labeling of Genetically Altered Foods

By STEPHANIE STROMAPRIL 23, 2014

 

Going further than any state so far, Vermont on Wednesday passed a law requiring the labeling of foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

Though the move came in a tiny state far from the nation’s population centers, proponents of such labeling immediately hailed the legislative approval as a significant victory. Labeling efforts are underway in some 20 other states, and the biotech and food industries have been pushing for federal legislation that would pre-empt such action.

“This is a historic day for the people’s right to know,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, an advocacy group that helped draft the Vermont legislation, said in a statement.

Governor Peter Shumlin, who had expressed reservations about the bill, said after the vote that he would sign it into law.

“There is no doubt that there are those who will work to derail this common-sense legislation,” he said in a statement. “But I believe this bill is the right thing to do and will gain momentum elsewhere after our action here in Vermont.” He had earlier predicted that opponents of labeling would immediately take the state to court over the law.

The vote Wednesday by the House of Representatives was 114 to 30 and followed approval by the Senate last week. The law would start July 1, 2016.

More than 90 percent of the nation’s corn, soy, canola and sugar beets — from which the bulk of the nation’s sugar is derived — are grown from transgenic seeds, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association has estimated that some 80 percent of foods found in grocery stores contain ingredients made from such crops.

Products containing ingredients like canola oil, soy lecithin, dextrose and sorbitol would have to be labeled under the Vermont law and other labeling proposals.

Connecticut passed a law requiring labeling last June, but it was contingent on several requirements, and Maine passed a similar law last year. Labeling will not go into effect in Connecticut, for instance, until at least four other states, one of them contiguous, pass similar requirements. And the combined population of those states must be at least 20 million.

Vermont has roughly 626,000 people, census figures show, so food companies could simply stop stocking grocery shelves without much lost revenue.

Big food manufacturers and the biotech industry that produces the seeds for genetically engineered crops contend that mandatory labeling of products containing ingredients derived from those crops — also known as genetically modified organisms, or G.M.O.s — will be tantamount to putting a skull-and-crossbones on them.

They also fear a hodgepodge of state labeling rules that might complicate packaging and production for food companies.

“Any law requiring the labeling of food that contain G.M.O.s creates extra costs for farmers, food manufacturers, distributors, grocers and consumers,” said Karen Batra, a spokeswoman for BIO, the biotech trade group. “The bill passed today is especially problematic because it puts these additional burdens solely on Vermont’s citizens without any added benefit.”

The federal legislation drafted by BIO and others would place the decision to require labeling in the hands of the Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for food labeling in general.

via Vermont Will Require Labeling of Genetically Altered Foods – NYTimes.com.

This GMO Apple Won’t Brown. Will That Sour The Fruit’s Image? : The Salt : NPR

Soon after being sliced, a conventional Granny Smith apple (left) starts to brown, while a newly developed GM Granny Smith stays fresher looking.

Courtesy of Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc.

If you (or your children) turn up your nose at brown apple slices, would you prefer fresh-looking ones that have been genetically engineered?

Neal Carter, president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits, in British Columbia, Canada, certainly hopes so. His company has created the new, non-browning, \”Arctic\” apples, and he\’s hoping for big orders from despairing parents and food service companies alike. Food service companies, he says, would no longer have to treat their sliced apples with antioxidant chemicals like calcium ascorbate to keep them looking fresh.

The cost savings \”can be huge,\” he says. \”Right now, to make fresh-cut apple slices and put them in the bag, 35 or 40 percent of the cost is the antioxident treatment. So you could make a fresh-cut apple slice 30 percent cheaper.\”

The new apples are waiting for approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But they face opposition — including from apple producers who worry that this new product will taint the apple\’s wholesome, all-natural image.

\”Our concern is marketing,\” says Christian Schlect, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, which represents apple growers in the major apple-producing areas of the Pacific Northwest.

Schlect sees a risk that consumers who are viscerally opposed to genetic engineering will avoid apples entirely, and the industry will have to spend precious time and money keeping GMO apples separate from their conventional cousins.

The non-browning trait was created by inserting extra copies of genes that the apple already possessed. These genes normally create an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase, which is responsible for the chemical reaction that causes browning.

Yet when extra copies of the gene are added, the apple reacts by shutting down all of them, stopping production of the enzyme and preventing the browning reaction. (Like any apple, these apples eventually will go brown from normal rotting. It\’s the immediate \”enzymatic browning\” that\’s blocked.)

Okanagan Specialty Fruits licensed this technique from the Australian research institute where it was first discovered.

At the moment, there are non-browning versions of Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has allowed Okanagan Specialty Fruits to produce them in test plots covering a few acres in the states of New York and Washington. Carter says his company now is working to put the trait in Fuji and Gala apples, too.

The USDA has studied the apple and released a preliminary conclusion that Arctic apples are pretty much as harmless as conventional ones. That assessment is now open for public comment, and thousands of people have taken advantage of the opportunity — most of them fiercely opposed to it.

Even if the USDA approved the apples within a few months, as Carter hopes, it would take several years before commercial quantities of non-browning apples could show up in grocery stores.

Okanagan Specialty Fruits does not plan to grow large quantities of apples itself. It will license its variety to commercial growers, charging them a one-time fee of $1,500 per acre of trees. Carter says this is comparable to the license fees that growers currently pay for the right to produce patented varieties such as Gala or Fuji.

Carter is convinced that most consumers will be curious to try the apple. The company conducted focus groups in four U.S. cities, from San Francisco to Raleigh, N.C. The company showed consumers the apple, explained that it was genetically engineered, and asked them, \”Would you buy it?\”

\”Typically, it\’s about 80-20,\” says Carter. \”80 percent say, \’Fantastic, bring it on.\’ And 20 percent say, \’Hmm. I don\’t think I like genetic engineering.\’ But they all eat it. Even if they were a nay-sayer that was never going to eat any GM fruit, they will eat a slice. It\’s not like we have to ask them to eat a slice. They will ask if they can eat a slice.\”

Carter thinks it may be more difficult convincing grocery stores to stock the new apple. Even if only a minority of their customers are viscerally opposed to it, grocery stores are risk-averse, and don\’t want to drive away any business at all.

via This GMO Apple Won’t Brown. Will That Sour The Fruit’s Image? : The Salt : NPR.

What Happens When You Walk Into Monsanto And Start Asking Questions

What Happens When You Walk Into Monsanto And Start Asking Questions

In short: They’re not thrilled. The director of the new documentary GMO OMG explains.

posted on September 13, 2013 at 3:12pm EDT

Jeremy Seifert’s new documentary GMO OMG, opening Friday in New York City, poses an alarming question: “IS THIS THE END OF REAL FOOD?”

As part of his quest to understand genetically modified crops (GMO = “genetically modified organism”), the companies that make them, and what their impact could be on the millions of humans who eat them, writer and director Seifert filmed himself walking into a Monsanto facility “to see if they’ll chat me up a little bit.”

Monsanto, in case you’re not up to speed, is one of the world’s most successful and intensely loathed biotech companies — successful enough to have just contributed $4.5 million to fight Washington state’s Proposition I-522, requiring labels on food containing GMOs, as well as spending $8.1 million to help defeat a similar law in California last year. Monsanto is the biggest of the big three companies (along with DuPont and Dow Chemical) that make up well over half of the world’s proprietary GMO seed industry (seeds that are patented and owned by the companies that develop them, rather than the farmers who grow them): they produce about 90% of all the soybeans in America.

Well, here’s how the visit worked out:

“I know people are comparing this to Michael Moore,” Seifert told BuzzFeed (they are). “But I was trying to not go into the building with the camera man and his huge camera right behind, because then of course you’re going to get kicked out. The mic was totally hidden, and the hope was that I would just be this dude walking in with no camera, so it wouldn’t be threatening in that way.”

via What Happens When You Walk Into Monsanto And Start Asking Questions.

U.S. Approves a Label for Meat From Animals Fed a Diet Free of Gene-Modified Products – NYTimes.com

U.S. Approves a Label for Meat From Animals Fed a Diet Free of Gene-Modified Products

By STEPHANIE STROM

Published: June 20, 2013

The Agriculture Department has approved a label for meat and liquid egg products that includes a claim about the absence of genetically engineered products.

It is the first time that the department, which regulates meat and poultry processing, has approved a non-G.M.O. label claim, which attests that meat certified by the Non-GMO Project came from animals that never ate feed containing genetically engineered ingredients like corn, soy and alfalfa.

The U.S.D.A.’s Food Safety Inspection Service “allows companies to demonstrate on their labels that they meet a third-party certifying organization’s standards, provided that the third-party organization and the company can show that the claims are truthful, accurate and not misleading,” Cathy Cochran, a U.S.D.A. spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Ms. Cochran said the approval for labeling meats did not signal “any new policy regarding non-G.E. or non-G.M.O. products.”

Labeling foods to indicate the absence or presence of genetically engineered ingredients is one of the most contentious issues in the food business today, with about two dozen states mulling labeling requirements and the biotech industry fighting back with intense lobbying.

More and more companies, however, are voluntarily labeling their products, including most recently Chipotle, the thriving restaurant chain, which now points out items containing genetically engineered ingredients on its online menu.

Meat from animals that eat non-G.M.O. feed, like certified organic meats, is highly prized by some consumers, but claims made by meat labels must be approved by the U.S.D.A. When a new company called Mindful Meats submitted a label last fall that included the Non-GMO Project’s certification seal, the department rejected it.

“It turned out that the U.S.D.A.’s Food Safety Inspection Service had not yet created a rule for handling non-G.M.O. claims for meat and poultry products, so they just denied us,” said Claire Herminjard, founder and chief executive of Mindful Meats, which makes meat products from organic dairy cows.

Ms. Herminjard learned that two other companies, Hidden Villa Ranch, and Pitman Farms, which produces Mary’s Chicken, also wanted to put a non-G.M.O. label on their products, so they banded together to petition the U.S.D.A.

The U.S.D.A. vetted the Non-GMO Project’s standards, requirements and auditing processes before giving its approval. “It has to approve every single label that goes out into commerce, but this sets a precedent for other meat and poultry companies that want to label this way,” Ms. Herminjard said.

via U.S. Approves a Label for Meat From Animals Fed a Diet Free of Gene-Modified Products – NYTimes.com.

Chipotle labels GMOs on its website

Chipotle labels GMOs on its website – says half products contain ‘unavoidable GM ingredients’ from corn or soy

Chipotle has started adding a red ‘G’ for GMOs next to foods on its online menu that are made using ingredients that may come from genetically modified crops such as corn and soy.

The firm, which says its long-term aim is to “eliminate GMOs from Chipotle’s ingredients” says that it has started switching the oil used in its fryers from soybean oil (most likely from GM soybean crops) to sunflower oil (non-GMO).

It adds: “Where our food contains currently unavoidable GM ingredients, it is only in the form of corn or soy.”

Chipotle’s menu contains 24 items, half of which feature a red G. In some cases, this is because corn is a core ingredient, for example in the tortilla chips and tacos.

In others, soybean oil is a core part of the recipe (honey vinaigrette, rice, fahita veggies), although some restaurants now use ricebran oil (which is non-GMO) instead.

via Chipotle labels GMOs on its website.

Bill Introduced in House and Senate to Require Labeling of GE Foods | Food Safety News

BY HELENA BOTTEMILLER | APRIL 25, 2013

Following state-level initiatives on the West Coast, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “clearly label” all genetically engineered (GE) foods, including foods that are made from GE grains and GE salmon, if it is approved by the agency.

The bill, dubbed the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, has ten co-sponsors in the Senate, including Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who represents a big salmon state and is supportive of labeling GE salmon, Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and nearly two dozen co-sponsors in the House, including Reps. Don Young (R-AK), also a vocal supporter of labeling GE salmon; Chellie Pingree (D-ME); Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Jim McDermott (D-WA).

While polls have found that nine in ten Americans support labeling, a high profile proposition, Prop. 37, which would have mandated labeling in California failed last year. Washington state is set to put a similar initiative on the ballot next election.

“Americans have the right to know what is in the food they eat so they can make the best choices for their families,” Senator Boxer said in the announcement Wednesday. “This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen and parents who all agree that consumers deserve more – not less – information about the food they buy.”

Rep. Polis said the bill is about “empowering consumers: consumers can chose to eat or not eat GMOs, or to pay more or less for GMOs.” He said he believes consumers have a right to know what they are eating.  I believe consumers have a right to know what they are eating so they can make their own informed food choices. I am proud to be working toward more informative food labels.”

More than 60 countries have some form of mandated GE labeling for foods, but in the U.S. labeling has been on a voluntary basis, with a hodge podge of “GMO-free,” or genetically modified organism-free, certifications and independent labels. In the early 1990s, the FDA determined that GE foods were not materially different from their non-GE counterparts and so there was no need to mandate labels, but 20 years later a movement has been built to pressure legislatures to reverse course.

via Bill Introduced in House and Senate to Require Labeling of GE Foods | Food Safety News.

In A Grain Of Golden Rice, A World Of Controversy Over GMO Foods : The Salt : NPR

by DAN CHARLES

There’s a kind of rice growing in some test plots in the Philippines that’s unlike any rice ever seen before. It’s yellow. Its backers call it “golden rice.” It’s been genetically modified so that it contains beta-carotene, the source of vitamin A.

Millions of people in Asia and Africa don’t get enough of this vital nutrient, so this rice has become the symbol of an idea: that genetically engineered crops can be a tool to improve the lives of the poor.

It’s a statement that rouses emotions and sets off fierce arguments. There’s a raging, global debate about such crops.

But before we get to that debate, and the role that golden rice plays in it, let’s travel back in time to golden rice’s origins.

It began with a conversation in 1984.

The science of biotechnology was in its infancy at this point. There were no genetically engineered crops yet. Scientists were just figuring out how to find genes and move them between different organisms.

Some people at the Rockefeller Foundation thought that these techniques might be useful for giving farmers in poor countries a bigger harvest.

So they set up a meeting at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in the Philippines, to talk about this.

Gary Toenniessen, who was in charge of the foundation’s biotechnology program at the time, says that a lot of people at this meeting were very skeptical about biotechnology. They were plant breeders, masters of the traditional way to improve crops.

One evening, after the formal sessions, “a group of these breeders were sitting around at the guesthouse at IRRI, having a beer or two,” says Toenniessen. After listening to their skepticism for a while, Toenniessen spoke up. If this technology did actually pan out, he said, and you could put any gene you wanted into rice, which one would you pick? “What’s your favorite gene?”

They went around the room. Breeders talked about genes for resisting disease or surviving droughts.

They came to a breeder named Peter Jennings, a legendary figure in these circles. He’d created perhaps the most famous variety of rice in history, called IR 8, which launched the so-called Green Revolution in rice-growing countries of Asia in the 1960s.

“Yellow endosperm,” said Jennings. (The endosperm of a grain of rice or wheat is the main part that’s eaten.)

“That kind of took everybody by surprise. It certainly took me by surprise. So I said, ‘Why?’ ” Toenniessen recalls.

Jennings explained that the color yellow signals the presence of beta-carotene — the source of vitamin A. Yellow kinds of corn or sorghum exist naturally, and for years, Jennings said, he had been looking for similar varieties of rice. Regular white rice doesn’t provide this vital nutrient, and it’s a big problem.

“When children are weaned, they’re often weaned on a rice gruel. And if they don’t get any beta-carotene or vitamin A during that period, they can be harmed for the rest of their lives,” says Toenniessen.

Toenniessen was persuaded, and the Rockefeller Foundation started a program aimed at creating, through technology, what Jennings had not been able to find in nature.

A global network of scientists at nonprofit research institutes started working on the problem.

The first real breakthrough came in 1999. Scientists in Switzerland inserted two genes into rice that switched on production of beta-carotene. A few years later, other researchers created an even better version.

A single bowl of this new golden rice can supply 60 percent of a child’s daily requirement of vitamin A.

“It’s a great product. And it’s beautiful! It looks just like saffron rice,” says Toenniessen, who’s now a managing director at the Rockefeller Foundation.

Others, though, don’t find it beautiful at all.

For instance, consider what happened just a few months ago. Some U.S.-funded researchers published the results of a nutritional study showing that people’s bodies easily absorb the beta-carotene in golden rice. They’d carried out that study among children in China.

The result seemed like great news. But the environmental group Greenpeace immediately called it a scandal.

“People are angry, really furious about these tests, using Chinese children as guinea pigs,” says Wang Jing, a campaigner for Greenpeace in China.

The Chinese government reacted quickly. It punished three Chinese co-authors of the study, removing them from their jobs.

In a report on the case, Chinese authorities say that the researchers didn’t get all the approvals they needed before carrying out the study. Also, the researchers told the children, and their parents, that this was a special kind of rice high in beta-carotene, but they didn’t always say it was genetically modified.

via In A Grain Of Golden Rice, A World Of Controversy Over GMO Foods : The Salt : NPR.

Whole Foods to Require Labels on Genetically Modified Food – NYTimes.com

Whole Foods to Require Labels on Genetically Modified Food - NYTimes.com

Whole Foods will begin using new labels in 2018 at 339 stores, including this one in Santa Monica, Calif.

By STEPHANIE STROM

 

A. C. Gallo, president of Whole Foods, said the new labeling requirement, to be in place within five years, came in response to consumer demand. “We’ve seen how our customers have responded to the products we do have labeled,” Mr. Gallo said. “Some of our manufacturers say they’ve seen a 15 percent increase in sales of products they have labeled.”

The labels currently used by Whole Foods show that a product has been verified as free of genetically engineered ingredients by the Non-GMO Project, a nonprofit certification organization. The labels that Whole Foods will use in 2018, which have yet to be created, will identify foods that contain such ingredients.

The announcement ricocheted around the food industry and excited proponents of labeling. “Fantastic,” said Mark Kastel, co-director of Cornucopia, an organic advocacy group that favors labeling.

But the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the trade group that represents major food companies and retailers, issued a statement opposing the move. “These labels could mislead consumers into believing that these food products are somehow different or present a special risk or a potential risk,” Louis Finkel, the organization’s executive director of government affairs, said in the statement.

Mr. Finkel noted that the Food and Drug Administration, as well as regulatory and scientific bodies including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, had deemed genetically modified products safe.

The labeling requirements announced by Whole Foods will affect its 339 stores in the United States and Canada. Since labeling is already required in the European Union, products in its seven stores in Britain are already marked if they contain genetically modified ingredients.The move by Whole Foods is the latest in a series of events that have intensified the debate over genetically modified foods. Voters defeated a hard-fought ballot initiative in California late last year after the biotech industry, and major corporations like Pepsi and Coke, spent millions of dollars to fight the effort. Other initiatives have qualified for the ballot in Washington State and Missouri, and consumers have been waging a sort of guerrilla movement, pasting warning stickers on suspected G.M.O. products owned by food companies that oppose labeling. Proponents of labeling insist that consumers have a right to know about the ingredients in the food they eat, and they contend that some studies in rats show that bioengineered food can be harmful.

Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Just Label It, a campaign for a federal requirement to label foods containing genetically modified ingredients, called the Whole Foods decision a “game changer.”

“We’ve had some pretty big developments in labeling this year, ” Mr. Hirshberg said, adding that 22 states now have some sort of pending labeling legislation. “Now, one of the fastest growing, most successful retailers in the country is throwing down the gantlet.”

He compared the potential impact of the Whole Foods announcement to Wal-Mart’s decision several years ago to stop selling milk from cows treated with growth hormone. Today, only a small number of milk cows are injected with the hormone.

Karen Batra, a spokeswoman for BIO, a trade group representing the biotech industry, said it was too early to determine the impact of the Whole Foods decision, if any. “It looks like they want to expand their inventory of certified organic and non-G.M.O. lines,” Ms. Batra said. “The industry has always supported the voluntary labeling of food for marketing reasons.”

She contended, however, that without scientific evidence showing that genetically modified foods caused health or safety issues, labeling was unnecessary.

Nonetheless, companies have shown a growing willingness to consider labeling. Some 20 major food companies, as well as Wal-Mart, were at a meeting recently in Washington to discuss genetically modified labeling.

Coincidentally, the American Halal Company, a food company whose Saffron Road products are sold in Whole Foods stores, on Friday introduced the first frozen food, a chick pea and spinach entrée, that has been certified not to contain genetically modified ingredients.

via Whole Foods to Require Labels on Genetically Modified Food – NYTimes.com.