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Consumers and health advocates launched a campaign calling on Safeway, and its new corporate parent Albertsons, to label its store-brand products for ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), on the one year anniversary of Whole Foods’ announcement that it will adopt labeling for all products in its stores.
“Whole Foods took a big step, and it’s time for Safeway to deliver for its customers,” said Chris Esh, Program Associate with WashPIRG Foundation. “Consumers have real concerns about GMOs, including the way they lead to increased pesticide use, and they have a right to know what’s in their food.”
As part of the event, WashPIRG Foundation also released a report documenting other recent actions companies have taken in response to consumers’ desire for better information about GMO ingredients in their food. In addition to Whole Foods’ commitment to labeling, other recent actions include:
- Chipotle and Ben & Jerry’s announced they will label the food they sell for GMO ingredients, and eventually move towards phasing out those ingredients.
- Both Cheerios and Grape-Nuts are going GMO-free.
- The Non-GMO Project, which offers voluntary GMO labeling, in 2013 saw a 300% year-over-year increase in producer interest.
And just this week, Kroger and Safeway joined other grocery chains, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Target by announcing they would not sell genetically engineered salmon, even if it’s approved for sale.
“Polls consistently show more than 90% of the public supports labeling,” continued Esh. “It’s just smart business sense for companies to give their customers what they want.”
As part of its campaign to persuade Safeway to label its store-brand products for GMOs, WashPIRG has gathered 8,694 petitions, and had its campaign endorsed by GMO Inside, Consumers Union, Moms Across America, and Food and Water Watch.
Safeway is also facing pressure from shareholders to meet the growing consumer demand for GMO labeling. Citing unprecedented consumer concern about transparency and recent competitor action on the issue, Green Century Capital Management filed a shareholder resolution urging Safeway to voluntarily label its private line products containing GMOs. The proposal will be put to shareholders at the grocer’s annual board meeting in May.
“Consumers expect transparency from the brands they trust to feed their families,” noted Lucia von Reusner, Shareholder Advocate at Green Century Capital Management. “Labeling GMOs is the logical step for any company hoping to win today's increasingly informed and sophisticated consumer.”
Yesterday, Safeway announced that later this year it will merge with Albertsons. “Mergers always bring lots of change, and an opportunity to step back and meet customers’ needs – this news makes it even more timely for the merged companies to commit to labeling GMOs.”
“GMO labeling is a common-sense solution that will help Safeway’s customers know what’s on their plates,” concluded Esh. “On the anniversary of Whole Foods’ commitment, it’s time for Safeway to do the same.”
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