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General Mills will start labeling for genetically modified organisms

Adriana Velez is Food Editor for SheKnows. She spent her formative years in Brooklyn, which pretty much explains everything about her. She now lives somewhere else and has discovered life after kale and kombucha. She's written for Civil ...

This is a big win for food transparency advocates

For those who want to know if our food contains ingredients made from genetically modified crops, this is exciting news: General Mills will start GMO labeling on its products nationwide (in the U.S.). The company announced the news days after the Senate rejected a bill that would have blocked states from requiring GMO labeling on food.

More: Chipotle goes GMO-free and makes us love them more

Vermont has a new law requiring GMO labeling on all food sold in the state starting July 1. It's the first state in the U.S. to succeed in making labeling mandatory, but at least 20 states are trying to pass similar laws.

Meanwhile, General Mills can clearly see where this GMO debate is going, and they've decided to save themselves a whole lot of trouble. If they have to label for Vermont, they might as well label for everyone.

More: FDA approves GMO salmon for human consumption

"We can’t label our products for only one state without significantly driving up costs for our consumers and we simply will not do that," says Jeff Harmening, head of U.S. retail operations, in a General Mills blog post. He is now calling for a "national solution" to the public demand for labeling.

In addition to the pledge to label, consumers can now search products on General Mills' website to find out if they contain GMO ingredients.

This is a big deal. Lots of smaller companies (especially organics) tout "GMO-free" on their labels. It's become a marketing tool. But for a gigantic corporation like General Mills — I mean, they make everything — to go transparent is tremendous. I wouldn't be surprised if other large food companies follow suit. We are on our way to GMO labeling whether the laws catch up or not.

More: Nine out of 10 consumers agree: If it's GMO they have a right to know

Will this mean the end of GMO ingredients, too? We'll have to see. The debate over whether they're truly harmful rages on, with more and more members of the scientific community saying they're safe. Even Bill Nye. But at least now we're a step closer to making informed decisions for ourselves.

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