Large food and beverage makers' opposition to California's Proposition 37, which would require products containing genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) to disclose that on labels, is creating perception problems for organic brands owned by these companies, reports The New York Times.
Along with bioengineering giants like Monsanto and DuPont, companies including ConAgra, General Mills, Nestle, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are collectively spending millions to fight the proposal, on the ballot for the Nov. 6 election.
Most processed foods in the U.S. contain GMOs, and the California market is so large that if the proposal passes, companies could effectively be forced to adopt the labeling -- and/or reformulate their products, due to negative consumer perceptions of GMOs (which federal regulators say are safe) -- on a nationwide basis.
Consumers angered by food/beverage companies' opposition to the labeling have been making their feelings known through social media and the sites of organic brands owned by the companies, such as Kellogg's Kashi, Dean Foods' Horizon Organic and various J.M. Smucker organic brands.
Kashi issued a statement last month saying that it has not made any contributions to oppose GMO labeling, after its Facebook page was "inundated with comments from consumers saying they would no longer buy its products" because of Kellogg's spending $600,000 to fight the proposal, reports the Times.
Brand experts say the companies, by opposing the proposal, may be damaging the organic brands that they have strived to keep separate from their conventional businesses, downplaying their ownership.
Independent organics producers support the proposal on transparency grounds. These companies also, of course, stand to gain marketing advantage from GMO labeling. --Karlene Lukovitz