Take Action

Tell Hershey and Mars: There is nothing sweet about GMOs!

Every year, around this time, entire aisles at grocery stores and drug stores turn red with seasonally branded Valentine’s Day candy. In fact, after Halloween, Valentine’s Day is the single largest candy-consuming day all year in the Unites States.

Almost as ubiquitous as the red and pink wrapped Valentine’s Day treats at this time are the genetically engineered ingredients within these products. Some of America’s favorite sweets, even dressed-up in their Valentine’s Day best, are still chock full of ingredients that are highly likely to be genetically engineered.

Much of these treats are made by Hershey and Mars, the oldest and largest chocolate manufacturers in the US. Together they comprise nearly 70% of the US Chocolate Market, and they have another thing in common—their love affair with GMOs.

WARNING: May contain GMOs
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

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) 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.

In Europe, where genetically modified ingredients are already required to be labeled, Hershey and Mars have had to adapt their recipes to formulate Kisses and M&Ms without GMOs. According to Confectionary 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.

If it’s possible to make the same candy without GMOs in Europe, why can’t Hershey and Mars do it here?

Rather than listen to consumer demand in the United States, Hershey and Mars together spent more than a million dollars to oppose GMO labeling in California last election. Hershey is reported to have spent $518,900 to defeat Prop 37 and Mars spent $498,350.

Unless you can buy these treats for your sweetie in Europe, there is a high chance you could be giving your true love a Valentine that endangers their health and the environment because of GMOs. This year, you should choose organic certified chocolate or non-GMO verified treats to show the loved ones in your life you really care. Even sweeter, you should look for fair trade products that ensure workers are treated fairly. And, make sure to tell Hershey and Mars you expect them to ditch the GMOs from all their candy, all year long.

Dear John P. Bilbrey (The Hershey Company, CEO) and Paul S. Michaels (Mars, Incorporated, CEO)

As a consumer who cares about the health and environmental impacts of foods, I’m concerned about the prevalence of genetically modified organisms (GMOS) in your products. Your major brands contain corn, soy, and sugars – all ingredients that come from crops in the U.S. that are genetically engineered. Consumers are increasingly looking for foods that are non-GMO verified or organic certified to ensure that they are not eating GMOs, and your best-selling products lack any such assurances.

As a company that markets products to represent love at this time of year, I don’t understand why you would include ingredients in the foods you sell that may be harmful to human health. As a company that purports to be responsible, I don’t understand why you include GMOs that are causing harms to the environment and farmers.

I'm shocked that you sell the same products in Europe without GMOs, but fail to provide those assurances here in the U.S.

I also do not understand why your company actively opposes the right of consumers to know if GMOs are in their foods.

I urge Hershey and Mars to take a proactive stand and announce a phase out of all GMOs in your foods in 2013. I also urge you to end your opposition to the labeling of GMOs in foods and to clearly label any Hershey/Mars products that contain GMOs with information regarding their genetically modified ingredients. Finally, I urge you to pledge that you will not fund opposition to any of the initiatives and legislation emerging in states around the country.

You both have the opportunity to be a leader amongst major food companies by being the first to end your use of GMOs and let the public know you have done so. Please take this important step for human and environmental health. And please make this decision now, so farmers can plant non-GMO crops this spring to meet your increased demand for non-GMO ingredients.

Thank you for your consideration.

John P. Bilbrey

The Hershey Company

Paul S. Michaels

Mars, Incorporated