Non-GMO label getting a local push by Lundberg Family Farms
By HEATHER HACKING – Staff Writer
Posted Jan. 11th
RICHVALE — Lundberg Family Farms is among the leaders in a trend to label foods as non-GMO.
GMO stands for genetically modified organisms, which are created through transferring genes from one organism to another.
Most Americans consume genetically modified foods every day. The majority of soy, cotton, corn and canola grown in the United States contains genetically modified crops, most of which have been altered to resist pests and weeds.
Other genetically modified foods may contain higher nutrients, are more tolerant to adverse growing conditions or produce higher yields.
Previously there has been no organized system in the United States for people to know whether the foods they buy contain GMOs.
Over the past two years, Lundberg Family Farms, which produces organic rice products, and others in the organic industry have created a new labeling system and verification process to label foods as “non-GMO.”
The group is a nonprofit organization called the Non-GMO project.
Grant Lundberg, chief executive officer of his family’s business in Richvale, said Lundberg Family Farms has long been opposed to genetically modified foods, created through biotechnology.
Some genetically modified crops, such as corn and soybeans, spread pollen easily and can cross-pollinate with other crops, Lundberg explained.
“There is the potential to lose a lot of genetic history because when a product is released, it is very hard to keep it contained,” Lundberg said.
Some food consumers have also had difficulty if they want to buy foods that do not contain genetic modifications.
About two years ago, the company that specializes in organic rice products joined other natural food companies to develop a nonprofit group to label non-GMO products, “to give the consumers an informed choice about what they are eating,” Lundberg said.
The program has set up a “supply chain from seed breeders all the way through to retailers and consumers,” he continued.
The program includes a third-party verification process, followed by inclusion of the non-GMO label.
“We know our customers have those concerns,” Lundberg said. “The person who goes into the natural food store has certain expectations of their food. Our hope for the project is that we’re creating a standard.”
Other companies that helped fund the labeling project include Whole Foods Market, Eden Organic, Nature’s Path and United Natural Foods.
Lundberg said many foreign countries, including Japan, Australia and the European Union, require labeling if products contain genetically modified foods, which creates a trade barrier for some U.S. products.
“The general U.S. ag policy has been pro-GMO,” Lundberg said.
Currently, 50 brands in the United States and Canada have signed up for the new non-GMO project, he said, accounting for about 3,000 products.
Part of the labeling criteria includes a protocol to trace, test and segregate foods used, said Megan Westgate, executive director for the Non-GMO Project, based in Southern California.
The standard chosen by the group is 0.9 percent or less GMOs in foods — the same standards used in the European Union, Westgate explained.
The goal of the program is to make testing very efficient, so companies that do not use genetically modified foods don’t end up spending a lot of money on testing.
For example, Westgate said, 91 percent of soy grown in the United States is genetically modified. If a company uses soy oil, testing each truckload could cost up to $16,000 a year.
But if the soy oil is tested further up the supply chain, the cost for testing is greatly reduced, she said.
“We’re creating a structure in making non-GMO an affordable and practical thing.
“The most efficient place to test is when a crop is processed,” Westgate said.
In the next couple of months, companies will be using up the remainder of their packaging material and rolling out with the redesigned containers that include the non-GMO seal.
She said the hope is that people will see the labels and become more informed about GMOs.
Supermarket News Forecasts Non-GMO uprising
By Jeffrey Smith
Author and founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology
Posted: January 8, 2010 05:26 PM
For a couple of years, the Institute for Responsible Technology has predicted that the US would soon experience a tipping point of consumer rejection against genetically modified foods; a change we’re all helping to bring about. Now a December article in Supermarket News supports both our prediction and the role the Institute is playing.
“The coming year promises to bring about a greater, more pervasive awarenes” of the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food supply, wrote Group Editor Robert Vosburgh, in a trade publication that conventional food executives and retailers use as a primary source of news and trends in the industry. Vosburgh describes how previous food “culprits” like fat and carbs “can even define the decade in which they were topical,” and suggests that GMOs may finally burst through into the public awareness and join their ranks.
Vosburgh credits two recent launches with “the potential to spark a new round of concern among shoppers who are today much more attuned to the ways their food is produced.” One is our Institute’s new non-GMO website, which, he says, “provides consumers with a directory of non-GMO brands . . . developed for the 53% of Americans who say they would avoid GMOs if labeled.'”
The other launch is the Non-GMO Project, offering “the country’s first consensus-based guidelines, which include third-party certification and a uniform seal for approved products. . . . The organization also requires documented traceability and segregation to ensure the tested ingredients are what go into the final product.”
He alerts supermarket executives that, “the growth of the organic (which bans GMO ingredients), local and green product categories reflects a generation of consumers who could be less tolerant of genetic modification.”
Please allow me to sit back with an I-told-you-so grin of satisfaction. Two years ago, I wrote a newsletter article describing three components that would move the market on GMOs:
1. The Non-GMO Project’s new “widely accepted definition for non-GMO” would spark a GMO cleanout, starting with the brands in the natural food industry.
Our Institute endorses the Non-GMO Project and encourages food companies to enroll their products with this excellent nonprofit organization. Their official seal was introduced in October 2009 and has quickly become the national standard for meaningful non-GMO claims.
2. “Providing clear Non-GMO product choices” with our Non-GMO Shopping Guide would make it easier for consumers to select “non-GMO products by brand and category.”
The same Guide is available as a website, a spread in magazines, a pocket guide, a two-sided download, and coming soon, a mobile phone application.
3. “Educating Health-Conscious Shoppers” about the health effects of GMOs is the key means by which GMOs will become a marketing liability—the next culprit.
From, and read the rest here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-smith/emsupermarket-newsem-fore_b_416861.html
Will Organic farmers embrace GM crops to help feed the world?
Posted on: January 14, 2010 12:19 PM, by Pamela Ronald
In an interview with The Times, Gordon Conway, Professor of International Development at Imperial College London and a former government adviser said that the ban on organic farmers using GM crops was based on an excessively rigid rejection of synthetic approaches to farming and a misconception that natural ways were safer and more environment- friendly than man-made ones.
I completely agree with Gordon Conway that it makes sense for farmers to use the most powerful tools available to make their production more sustainable. Still, I think it unlikely in the short term that organic farmers will embrace the concept.
It is not that feeding the world, health of the consumers or care of the land are unimportant issues, it is just that the organic “brand” is now making a lot of money for all in the industry (Farmers, food processors, large corporate retailers such as Whole Foods, etc) and so there is zero incentive to change certification rules.
If you go to the link above, there are some great comments and I’m sure we could all add some more! – Mom
Read more, great Real Food Friday posts here: http://www.foodrenegade.com/fight-back-friday-january-22nd/