US food companies scramble to source non GM ingredients

Food companies across America are struggling to source conventional ingredients as growing pressure to replace genetically modified ones gains traction.

Last weekend saw over two million people worldwide protest against GM giant Monsanto sighting the alleged dangers of genetically modified foods and the environmental damage caused by its production.

So far in the US states of Connecticut, Vermont and Maine, at least one chamber of the state legislature has given the go ahead for bills that will require the mandatory labelling of foods that contain GM ingredients, with similar legislation pending in over 24 other US states as reported by the New York Times.

US retail giant Whole Foods Market, have also added pressure by refusing to sell any GM produce or processed foods that is not labelled as GM in all of their stores by 2018.

A pressing concern for many businesses is the process involved in switching from GM to non GM certified produce. The cost for conventional, non GM ingredients is far higher than that of genetically modified crops and produce.

Approximately 90 percent of US corn, soybeans, canola and sugar beets are genetically modified. Farmers that are willing to make the switch to non GM will have to be patient as it will take time before they can harvest thier new crops as the soil may not be immediately suitable to gain non-GMO certification.

 “There’s a transition period required,” said Richard Kamolvathin, senior vice president at Verity Farms, (seller of meats, grains and other products derived from conventional crops, as well as natural soil amendments). “You don’t just stop growing G.M.O. seed and then start growing non-G.M.O. seed.”

Taste and consistency of products is another factor that needs to be considered when making the switch as the products will need to be tried and tested to capture the same flavours and mouth feel as the original GM ingredients.

Foods in Australia must be labelled if they contain GM ingredients however if a GM ingredient is highly refined, ie in cooking oils, margarine, baked goods and chocolate, they do not have to be labelled.

Currently, Australia does not permit the sale of GM fresh foods including fruit and vegetables.


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