As more consumers check food packaging for the “GMO-Free” label, more food manufacturers are sourcing non-GMO ingredients. The food manufacturers are, for the most part, removing the GMOs from their foods without so much as an announcement.
While Chipotle is basking in unprecedented growth after their announcement to eliminate GMOs from their food, Ben & Jerry’s is enjoying public praises for their promise to eradicate GMOs from their products as well. Some companies, however, are going GMO-free cautiously and quietly, according to NPR.
Cheerios dropped the GMOs after a social media fiasco prompted by anti-GMO activists. There is no large stamp on the front of the box bragging about its GMO status, it’s finely written on the back of the box instead. General Mills’ only announcement was in a modest blog post early this year. NPR explains:
“The news that Ben & Jerry’s is taking a stand on a controversial issue is no surprise; it’s part of the company’s calling card. But some other mainstream companies are carefully — and much more quietly — calibrating their non-GMO strategies.”
Megan Westgate of the Non-GMO Project says she is aware of “a lot of exciting cool things that are happening that for whatever strategic reasons get kept pretty quiet.” Westgate believes that companies don’t want to make promises they don’t know if they can keep. They are still testing the GMO-free waters.
One issue for food manufacturers is the availability of GMO-free food sources. If a producer is going to promise no GMOs in their products, they have to be certain they can find adequate GMO-free foods to make them with. Ninety percent of all corn and soy are GMOs. Ben & Jerry’s had a little trouble formulating a GMO-free toffee to replace its ice cream made with Heath Bars. Heath Bars themselves are not a GMO-free food.
Many food manufacturers are trying to make to make the switch to GMO-free though. Not only are the food manufacturers listening to blaring demands from consumers who are nervous about GMOs in their foods, but the companies are also getting nervous about labeling laws that threaten their comfortable and quiet GMO use. When other countries demanded labeling for GMO foods, consumers were less-than-eager to buy the products, causing the manufacturers to switch to GMO-free ingredients before legislation ever demanded it.
Another issue manufacturers have with announcing promises to go GMO-free to the masses is the cost of GMO-free ingredients. Some consumers are willing to pay a premium price for the assurance that there will be no modified foods on their plates and in their bowls, but not everyone is.
Using more expensive ingredients could temporarily mean either a price hike for the consumer or cut into companies’ profits. Chris Hurt, a Purdue University agriculture economist, said that if the agricultural sector switches on a larger scale back towards GMO-free crops, an “efficiency of scale” would “kick in” leveling the food-cost playing field.
[Image Via Greenpeace, Vt Right To Know GMO]