What Time Is It?
It's Time to Just Label It!

June 20, 2014

What do the United Kingdom, Russia, China, Brazil, the entire European Union, Turkey and Saudi Arabia all have in common?  Turns out they are just a few of the 61 countries around the world that require labeling on foods made with GMO ingredients.

But in the United States, companies are not required to disclose whether they are using GMO ingredients.  Ben & Jerry’s has a history of going to bat for consumers’ right to know. In fact we led the fight over 10 years ago on behalf of companies who wanted to label their products as coming from cows that were not treated with the genetically engineered growth hormone, rBGH. We believe it’s a fundamental right to know what is in the products you buy and the foods you eat.  Seems like a no brainer, really.

Now, we’re really proud of our ice cream and the ingredients we use to make it, and we’d like to think most companies feel the same way about their products. So it’s hard for us to believe that any company would be opposed to disclosing whether or not their product is made with GMO ingredients.  We believe that if you don’t feel comfortable telling the world that you use GMO ingredients, then perhaps — instead of fighting against a consumers’ right to know– you shouldn’t be using them in the first place.

There is a new and growing grass roots movement of people all across the United States fighting for mandatory labeling of food made with GMO ingredients. It began last November in California with the narrow defeat of Proposition 37, but has now spread to more than 30 states including Vermont, Connecticut to another ballot initiative this fall in Washington State.

While we’d prefer a national framework, we believe that successful state-level labeling campaigns will ultimately lead to a federal standard delivering consistent GMO labeling regulation throughout the US. We’re pleased to stand with advocates, campaigners, policy makers, consumers, retailers, and others in calling on state legislatures to pass mandatory GMO labeling.  If you believe, as we do–that consumers have the right to know what’s in the products they buy–then one of the only ways to guarantee that right is through mandatory GMO labeling on packaging.

As you know, we are in the process of transitioning to sourcing only non-GMO by origin ingredients. By volume, we are already 80% there, and we’re working hard towards completing our transition. Originally our intention was to have this transition completed by the end of 2013, but after reviewing the more than 200 products that need to be converted, we realized this transition process will extend into 2014.

In addition to our own transition, we are actively supporting the state level labeling campaigns.  Our co-founder, Jerry Greenfield, has testified in support of labeling laws in the Vermont and Connecticut Legislatures.  And later this year, we’ll be hitting the road to Washington State in support of I-522, a ballot initiative similar to California’s Prop 37 that would require GMO labeling. We’re proud to stand with our consumers on this issue and will keep you posted on our progress to win mandatory labeling.

Want to learn more? Here are a few resources: