What will you get for your loved one this Valentine’s Day? If genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in chocolates are not on your shopping list, you will want to know about GMO Inside’s new push to get the nation’s largest candy manufacturers–Hershey and Mars–to break up with GMOs in 2013.
GMO Inside, a campaign dedicated to advancing the right of consumers to know whether or not foods are genetically engineered, is calling on Hershey and Mars to either stop putting GMOs in Valentine’s candy and other products … or to start labeling the products as containing GMOs.
Hershey and Mars combined comprise nearly 70 percent of the U.S. chocolate market. The two companies are not shy about their love affair with GMOs; together they spent more than a million dollars to oppose GMO labeling in California in the November 2012 election. Hershey is reported to have spent $518,900 to defeat Prop 37 and Mars spent $498,350.
The reason these companies oppose GMO labeling so strongly is due to the fact that GMO ingredients are in their sweets; a label would surely make a consumer think twice about eating their favorite candy bar.
For example, these popular candies contain the following GMO-risk ingredients:Reese’s Peanut Butter filled Hearts (Hershey) contain sugar, soy lecithin, and cornstarchHershey Hugs contain sugar, soy lecithin and corn syrup solidsValentine’s Colored M&M’s (Mars) contain sugar, soy lecithin, cornstarch, and corn syrupValentine’s Snickers (Mars) contain soy lecithin, corn syrup, sugar, and partially hydrogenated soybean oil
GMO Inside also released a “Valentine’s Day Villains” shopping guide for consumers who want to avoid GMO treats for their Valentines. Go to www.GMOinside.org to get a list of candies to watch out for and also some non-GMO alternatives for your loved one.
Genetically modified organisms have never been proven safe for consumption, and a growing body of studies is raising concerns around the health effects of eating them. GMOs are also increasing the use of toxic herbicides and causing harm to farmers in the US and abroad.
In Europe, where genetically modified ingredients are already required to be labeled, Hershey and Mars have adapted their recipes to formulate Kisses and M&Ms without GMOs. According to Confectionery News, Hershey products made for distribution in Europe will be formulated without GMO ingredients, in order to meet the requirements of major retailers which ban the sale of products with genetically modified ingredients and to satisfy increasing consumer concern about the safety of GMOs.
“Unless you can buy Hershey or Mars products in Europe, there is a high chance you could be giving your Valentine a treat with GMOs that endanger their health and the environment,” said GMO Inside Campaign Director Elizabeth O’Connell. “To be safe, you should choose organic certified or Non-GMO Project Verified chocolate to show the loved ones in your life you really care.”
Beyond the issue of GMOs, Hershey also has problems with child labor in the cocoa it sources. Though the company committed to certify its supply chain as 100 percent sustainable in October of 2012, there has been no further information about how the company plans to deliver on its promise to remove forced child labor from its supply chain over the next seven years.
“Consumers have a choice — there is delicious chocolate from companies that are organic or verified through the Non-GMO Project, said Alisa Gravitz, president of Green America. “And you can make it doubly sweet by also looking for fair trade options. You’ll be showing your sweetheart you care in every way. Refuse to buy GMO-laden chocolate this Valentine’s Day.”