USA Today: Dairy Farmers Seek End to ‘Fear-Based’ Food Labeling

By Rick Barrett –

A national group with strong ties to Wisconsin dairy farms has urged food companies to stop using labels such as “GMO-free” for marketing purposes.

The National Milk Producers Federation, based in Arlington, Va., says food manufacturers have turned to “fear-based” labeling that plays on the fear of things like genetically modified organism products, synthetic animal-growth hormones and high fructose corn syrup.

In its “Peel Back the Label” campaign, the dairy industry trade group says nearly 70% of American consumers look to food labels when making purchase decisions, but that some of the information is misleading.

For instance, one company has labeled its table salt as “GMO-free,” when it could never have been GMO in the first place because salt has no genes to modify.

Similar marketing practices have taken place with dairy products, according to the National Milk Producers Federation, which says it represents about 70% of Wisconsin’s dairy farms through farm cooperatives and individual memberships.

“The deceptive labels and fear-based marketing increasingly used by some food manufacturers damages consumer trust and jeopardizes the safe, sustainable farming practices that have enhanced farm productivity over the last 20 years,” said Jim Mulhern, federation president.

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