A Growing Movement
There's a movement on the horizon that has its eye on the ingredient lists of CPG packaging and QSR menus. In fact, it's well in motion.
The identification and labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food products has been on the rise in recent years. According to Food Safety News, up to 80 percent of packaged foods contain GMO ingredients. Common GMO ingredients found in many processed foods in the U.S. are genetically modified corn, sugar, soy and oils. The Non-GMO Project lists, as of December 2011, 90 percent of canola, 88 percent of corn, 94 percent of soy, 95 percent of sugar beets, 988 acres of papaya and 25,000 acres of zucchini and yellow summer squash as being at high risk of containing GMOs.
Organizations like the Non-GMO Project and GMO Inside, are helping consumers gain more knowledge about the presence of GMOs in the foods we eat and as a result a few mainstream products are beginning to remove GMOs due to customer demand. In January of 2013, GMO Inside kicked off a campaign targeted at two CPG giants, Kellogg and General Mills, to either label or remove GMOs from their famed breakfast cereals. About a year after the campaign launched, General Mills announced the removal of GMOs from its well-known Cheerios label. Though GMO Inside did express its gratitude to General Mills on its move with Cheerios, the activist group is still requesting that GM obtain third-party verification.
The nation-wide retailer, Target, is also on board! In June of 2013, they announced that it will eliminate all GMOs in its Simply Balanced™ brand by the end of 2014. And most recently, Post Foods announced that its Grape-Nuts Original will be Non-GMO beginning in January of 2014.
GMOs and Restaurants
In March of last year, Chipotle was the first U.S. company to show labels of menu items that contain GMO ingredients on its website. And in July, the company topped itself, becoming the first U.S. restaurant chain to announce its intent to remove GMO foods from its menus as much as possible. So far, Chipotle is the first major establishment to do so.
An Ongoing Debate
As some organizations are clearly taking action, there is still debate as to whether or not an issue even exists at all. Kellogg stands by its position that GMOs are safe, and suggests concerned consumers look to its Kashi line of foods which offers a variety of Non-GMO verified options. And though General Mills took action with Cheerios, the company does state that it believes GMOs are safe. GMO Inside launched a similar campaign around Valentine's Day in 2013 that focused on chocolate producers Hershey and Mars. Both companies have yet to take any action in removing GMOs, and also state that these organisms are safe. According to the USDA's organic certification standards, it remains that foods labeled "organic" are not allowed to contain any GMOs.
This post originally appeared on the Food Genius blog.