The world’s largest GMO foods company is in partnership with the Non-GMO Project. Go ahead, read it again, but it’s unlikely to change your grasp of the words. It doesn’t matter if you’re demanding non-GMO foods, or a proponent of GMOs – there’s something wrong with this picture. The conventional farming world is in an uproar at this news from Cargill, and the discerning consumer should be too.
Who is Cargill?
One of the oldest agricultural companies in the United States, who over the past 150 years has grown into a multinational conglomerate whose interests span all aspects of crops from seed to harvest, grain handling, exports and imports, food service products, flavourings and food ingredients.
The average consumer might not be familiar with the name, though Cargill eggs were in every Egg McMuffin you’ve ever ordered. They’re big in beef and poultry production around the world too, along with edible oils, and ingredients for health and beauty products and alcoholic beverages. You might say that the world is Cargill’s customer, though retail consumers are one step removed, and that massive multi-tiered customer base will soon grow to include those who will only eat non-GMO foods.
The Non-GMO Foods “Kerfuffle”
Last fall, Cargill excitedly announced teaming up with the Non-GMO Project to verify 3 commercial ingredients in the non-GMO program; cane sugar, erythritol, and high oleic sunflower oil. An excellent start, with plans for more product verifications. Why? It has enormous financial growth potential:
“Annual sales of Non-GMO Project Verified products have increased from $348.8 million in 2010 to more than $19 billion as of March 2016… demand for non-GMO products is expected to grow 12 percent annually through 2018. With nearly 2,800 Non-GMO Project Verified brands sourcing ingredients to comply… food and beverage industry demand is outpacing supply.“
By March 2017, Cargill’s Non-GMO Project verified ingredients list totaled 13, which is when things hit the fan.
GMO farmers are insulted over the Big Food giant’s straddling the great divide. Monsanto CTO Robert Farley tweeted a desire to know why they’re working with an “anti-science” group. Perhaps the answer lies in the reason that no one is blowing up any Cargill facilities?
Investor’s Business Daily calls it an unholy alliance, questioning why Cargill didn’t just do their own verification instead of jumping ship “to please only one customer.” Interesting. The anti-GMO consumer count is millions of times greater than one.
And what does this say about the Non-GMO Project? They exist to rid the world of GMO crops and foods, but they’re embracing one of its largest purveyors? At first glance, alarm bells go off. Perhaps concerned consumers should stop supporting the Non-GMO Verified label.
Then again, maybe it’s a sign that we’re gaining ground in the battle over food quality and food transparency. Cargill isn’t alone in realizing that force feeding the public against their wishes isn’t the smartest strategy. Major grain processors Bunge and Ingredion already had products verified as non-GMO foods. But no huge drama unfolded over their business moves, or because big food companies started scrambling to develop non-GMO products a year ago or more.
The Earth Has Tilted
The pro-GMO crowd is threatened by this major paradigm shift. Rightly so, the market for their science lab food must shrink a little each day, because the market for non-GMO food keeps increasing.
“There’s a growing group of people who don’t want GMO ingredients. So, let’s develop a supply chain for that, rather than say, “You’re wrong if you don’t want GMOs.”” — Cargill CEO William MacLennan, Wall Street Journal
More Details & Sources:
- Cargill PR (10/2016)
- 13 Verified Food Ingredients
- PR Win Turned Kerfuffle
- Slap in the Face
- Other Straddlers Uncriticized
- Careful What You Tweet
- Unholy Alliance
- Boycott the Label
- Pro-GMO Snit Fit
- More About Cargill
- Cargill McDonald’s Business Unit
- Egg McMuffin Eggs