In a statement posted on its website April 30, the company, which is owned by Unilever, said it is committed to sourcing only non-GMO ingredients for its products.
"Our goal is to do so by the end of 2013, but we will still be making this conversion into 2014," the company said. "While most of our ingredients are already sourced non-GMO, we decided to take this opportunity to also source any ingredient that can be Fairtrade certified as such. 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 noted it makes about 80 flavors of ice cream and there can be nearly 40 ingredients in a single flavor, making it a complex undertaking.
In a follow-up posting May 24, Ben & Jerry's noted its long history of supporting family-owned farms and said it is "concerned that increasing GMO crops comes at the expense of smaller farms, which we believe is a more sustainable kind of farming."
Ben & Jerry's went on to say more than half of processed food products on grocery store shelves contain one or more genetically engineered ingredient, and it supports consumers and health and environmental advocates who are demanding companies be transparent about whether their products contain GMOs.
"We support those calling for transparency and a consumer's right to know and support the push for mandatory labeling," the company said. "We ought to all have freedom to choose whether or not we want to eat food that has been genetically engineered. We think this is a fundamental right."
The Huffington Post noted Monday Ben & Jerry's announcement comes less than a year after Californians rejected Proposition 37, which would have required genetically modified food to be labeled as such. The website reported the group Underground Health said Unilever donated almost half a million dollars to defeat the measure.