It’s only customary to have some form of chocolate to be at the top of your Valentine’s Day must-get list. But are GMOs also on your list? They could be if you’re picking up candy from Hershey and Mars.
Stop with GMOs already
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 stop putting GMOs in Valentines candy and other products or to start labeling the products as containing GMOs. According to GMO Inside campaign director Elizabeth O’Connell, Hershey and Mars combined comprise nearly 70 percent of the U.S. chocolate market. The two companies together 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.
Check out the GMO-risk ingredients in the following popular candies:
- Reese’s Peanut Butter filled Hearts (Hershey) contain sugar, soy lecithin, and cornstarch
- Hershey Hugs contain sugar, soy lecithin and corn syrup solids
- Valentine’s Colored M&M’s (Mars) contain sugar, soy lecithin, cornstarch, and corn syrup
- Valentine’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 GMOs treats for their Valentines.
What’s the big GMO deal?
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.
O’Connell says that 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,” adds 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.”
Child labor is another issue
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.”
Do your part
Consumers interested in speaking out to Hershey and Mars can sign an online petition at Action.GreenAmerica.org.