Ken Powell, chairman and CEO of General Mills Inc., restated his opposition to mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms, commonly called GMOs, at a conference in California.
The conference, called Brainstorm Green, was put on by Fortune. In an uneditedtranscript posted by the magazine, Powell said GMOs are safe and they’re part of a solution to feeding the world’s growing population.
Powell said he didn’t have a problem with specialty retailer Whole Foods’ recent announcement it would require GMO information on labels.
He said he’s not opposed to Whole Foods’ policy because General Mills’ organic brands — such as Muir Glenn, Cascadian Farms, Larabar and Food Should Taste Good — that it sells to Whole Foods are GMO free.
Powell said virtually every product in the grocery store contains GMOs, and he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to label those as having GMOs.
General Mills spent about $1 million lobbying with other food manufacturers to defeat a measure in California that would have required GMOs to be disclosed on food labels, according to the story.
If such a rule was implemented on a state-by-state basis, it would cost consumers more because manufactures would have change how they manage their supply chains, Powell said.
He added that there wouldn’t be room to include GMO information on product labels.
“Consumers tell us, and I think they’re right, that they want to know about the ingredients, they want to know the nutrition information of that product, they want to know if there’s a safety thing, if there’s peanuts in there or something like that. They need to know these things. But we should restrict the use of that label for this important information, and limit it to that. If we broaden it to other things that could be anything, I mean it could be anything, causes that we have, things that we believe in, we’ll need to add pages to the label, and we simply don’t think we should do that.”