The new labels are in response to a law in Vermont, enacted in 2014, that will require labels on food products that contain genetically-engineered ingredients starting July 1.
"In terms of timing, we are currently working to amend the labeling of our U.S. products to comply with the Vermont law," a Mars spokesman said. "Given the size and complexity of our supply chain, GMO-labeled products will appear on store shelves at different times."
According to a statement on its website, Mars says “we not only ensure the safety of all raw materials in our products, we’re also committed to being transparent with our consumers so they can understand what’s in the products they love.”
"All sides of this debate, 20 years of research, and every major health and safety agency in the world agree that GMOs are not a health or safety concern," General Mills' U.S. retail chief operating officer Jeff Harmening wrote on the company website. "At the same time, we know that some consumers are interested in knowing which products contain GMO ingredients."
Vermont's law is backed by The Vermont Food Fight Fund, in collaboration with local groups. The Vermont Food Fight Fund was established by that state’s legislature to support this first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law, including its defense of any lawsuits that may be filed.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association, Snack Food Association, International Dairy Foods Association and National Association of Manufacturers filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging Vermont's law as unconstitutional. The association requested that the law be blocked until the case is resolved, which was denied; the association has filed an appeal with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Vermont’s fast-approaching labeling mandate is forcing food companies to make costly decisions on how to comply by the July 1 effective date or face severe fines of $1,000 a day per item," according to a statement from the Grocery Manufacturers Association. "GMA member companies are individually deciding how they will comply with the Vermont law, as the coalition of food manufacturers, retailers and agriculture groups continue to push for passage of the federal bill that would protect consumers, farmers and small businesses from a costly patchwork of state labeling laws.”