A group of big food makers and other consumer-goods companies plans to use smartphone scanning technology to allow shoppers to quickly get detailed information on their products, as more consumers clamor to learn more about ingredients, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The SmartLabel initiative, announced Wednesday by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, an industry group, so far includes more than 30 companies, including General Mills Inc., Hershey Co., and PepsiCo Inc. The association said companies are expected to use the technology on 30,000 products by the end of 2017.
Perhaps the most-contested issue the SmartLabel is intended to address is the use of ingredients made from genetically modified organisms—crops whose DNA is engineered to produce traits such as pest resistance. The U.S. government allows production of multiple GMO crops and many science groups deem them safe, but some consumers and advocacy groups say they potentially harm the environment and human health, and have urged that products containing them be labeled.
Industry officials say mandatory labeling would be confusing and costly, and that companies should be allowed to do so voluntarily. The SmartLabel—which allows but doesn’t require companies to reveal GMO ingredients—is a step toward doing that. The Grocery Manufacturers Association estimated that by the end of 2017, companies will disclose information on GMOs for some 20,000 products through the SmartLabel technology.
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