Like most major food corporations, Unilever is firmly against transparency when it comes to genetically modified ingredients. A year ago, the conglomerate gave half a million dollars to help defeat a measure on the California ballot that would have required food made with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled, the Daily Mail reported.
So it may come as a surprise that the Ben & Jerry's ice cream company, which is owned by Unilever, has announced that it will eliminate all genetically modified ingredients from its food. In fact, the left-leaning ice cream brand has promised to eradicate GM organisms from its recipes as soon as the end of this year. The brand also supports legislation requiring labels on GMO ingredients, such as the proposition that Unilever helped defeat.
"Our goal is for all of our flavors to be Fairtrade certified and sourced with non-GMO ingredients by the end of the year," the company said. "There can be almost 40 different ingredients in a single flavor, so you can see how complex this undertaking is."
More from GlobalPost: Agent Orange maker Monsanto back in Vietnam
More than 60 countries require labeling of food with genetically modified ingredients, but the United States isn't one of them, which explains why Ben & Jerry's previously allowed some GMOs in their ice cream without you even realizing it.
In fact, the United States Food and Drug Administration doesn't even require extensive safety testing on genetically modified ingredients before they hit the market--and potentially end up in the processed food that you eat. As the Union of Concerned Scientists explains, the FDA oversees genetically modified foods under a "largely voluntary consultation program," in which companies get to decide what, if any, safety data they want to submit. Many health groups such as the Consumer's Union, the Center for Food Safety and the Union of Concerned Scientists have demanded that the US change its system.
And it seems that popular opinion is shifting away from the United States' lax approach. On Saturday, protesters in dozens of cities rallied against Monsanto, one of the major biotech corporations that sells herbicides and produces genetically modified seeds that are resistant to those herbicides.
Perhaps Ben & Jerry's realized that many of its customers could have been at those rallies.