Abbott Laboratories launching non-GMO Similac infant formula in US


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Abbott Laboratories launching non-GMO Similac infant formula in US

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Abbott Laboratories is launching a non-GMO version of its popular Similac Advance infant formula in the US - a decision its denies was fuelled by pressure from campaigners.

Similac Advance Non-GMO infant formula - the first and only non-GMO labelled infant formula from a leading US manufacturer - will be available in selected Target stores across the US from this week.

Distribution will be extended in the fall, and non-GMO Similac Sensitive, a reduced-lactose infant formula, will hit shelves August. 

“We have been working on this for a while,"​ Lindsy Delco, spokesperson, Abbott Laboratories, told "Similac Advance and non-GMO Similac Advance contain the exact same ingredients - just from different sources.”

All Similac infant formula products - with the exception of Similac Organic - contain genetically-modified ingredients.

These products will continue to be sold in the US by Abbott, said Delco.

America's largest infant formula manufacturers - Abbott, Nestlé and Mead Johnson Nutrition - have repeatedly been petitioned to remove GMOs from their products. 

Such pressure, however, played no part in Abbott's decision to launch non-GMO versions of Similac Advance and Similac Sensitive, said Delco

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"Our decision really had nothing to do with that,"​ she said. "We still believe products that use GMOs are safe."

"This is more about offering consumers choice."

"We've had a number of parents ask us to produce a non-GMO formula, and we've done that," ​she said.

For the last three years, As You Sow, a non-profit organization that promotes corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, has tabled resolutions at Abbott's annual shareholder meeting.

In April 2015, it asked Abbott to publish a report on the use of genetically-engineered ingredients in its nutritional products.

The proposal was rejected by Abbott shareholders. Just 5.09% of the votes cast were in favour of a report. 

In May 2014, an As You Sow proposal to label GMOs on Similac infant formula products was also rejected, with just 5.25% of votes cast in favour.

A year earlier, in April 2013, it proposed Abbott remove GMOs from products, including its Similac products, “until long-term safety testing proves GMOs are safe.”

It was unsuccessful, receiving just 3% support from shareholders.

As You Sow was unavailable to comment prior to publication.

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