The Ripple Effect of the Call for Non-GMO
As demand for labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients grows - businesses are trying to find out what it will take to gain certification as non-GMO. Several state legislatures have GMO labeling measures pending and just this weekend - rallies were held against the producers of genetically altered ingredients. Some consumers are threatening to boycott products that aren't labeled. According to Megan Westgate - Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Non-GMO Project - roughly 180 companies inquired about gaining certification last October as California voters prepared to vote on a labeling initiative. Then - after Whole Foods announced all products sold in its stores would have to be labeled - Westgate says nearly three-hundred more signed up. The Non-GMO Project received three-hundred additional inquiries in April.
As these companies seek non-GMO certification - they are also looking for non-GMO crops. Clarkson Grain Founder and President Lynn Clarkson says food processors are calling and asking for non-GMO supplies. But making the swap to ingredients sourced from conventional varieties is no easy task. A portion of the conventional varieties of crops is exported, another portion is already spoken for by domestic companies and demand is increasing in the livestock industry as demand grows for eggs and meats sourced from animals that haven't eaten genetically modified feeds. Still - Clarkson says right now - there are more non-GMO crops than there are buyers.
At Whole Foods - National Grocery Buyer Errol Schweizer says he's seeing shortages in organic and conventional seeds - as well as in commodity ingredients sourced from conventional crops. He says there is demand for conventional crops - and urges farmers to plant them. If farmers do make the switch - Verity Farms Senior Vice President Richard Kamolvathin says there will be a transition period. Not only will it take time for the farmers - but for the companies too - who will have to make changes for things like taste and consistency.
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