Cargill faces backlash following Non-GMO verification tweet
Cargill received a storm of negative criticism after tweeting last week it had partnered with the Non-GMO Project to verify product ingredients. One critic, farmer advocate and attorney Amanda Zaluckyj took the company to task in her blog “The Farmers Daughter”.
She tells Brownfield Cargill needs to understand who they are doing business with.
“If you’re going to work with an organization like The Non-GMO Project then you have to recognize what their message is, what kind of agenda they have, and what they’re trying to accomplish. Essentially at the end of the day they want to stigmatize the technology and they want to end its use” says Zaluckyj.
In a statement to Brownfield, Cargill VP of food safety Randy Giroux says Cargill’s affiliation with the Non-GMO Project is limited to its verification process. He says companies like theirs use private standards that the market recognizes because there is no federal standard for non-GMO products in the US.
Zaluckyj says Cargill should have developed its own non-GMO verification process.
“I don’t think there’s any excuse for working with the Non-GMO Project or labeling it’s a gold standard for verification purposes, for legitimizing it, for financially supporting it. We can talk out of both sides of our mouth here but if you’re going to work with them, and you’re going to support them, and you’re going to legitimize them, then I think you have to adopt their agenda as well,” says Zaluckyj.
Giroux says Cargill does not share the Non-GMO Project’s position on GMO’s and “would welcome other viable options in the marketplace.”
Below is the full statement from Cargill provided to Brownfield
“I want to emphasize that there’s no bigger supporter of farmers and GMO technology than Cargill. We partner with farmers all around the world-just as we have for the last 151 years. We share the belief of farmers across U.S. and the world that GMOs are safe. We believe in sound science and we advocate for the right policies to support adoption of biotechnology.
We fully recognize that GMO technology is essential and indispensable to sustainably feed the world’s rapidly expanding population,” said Cargill’s vice president of food safety, quality and regulatory, Randy Giroux.
We realize that a brief social media message issued by Cargill last week caused concern among our stakeholders. We’d like to clarify that Cargill itself is a major GMO stakeholder. We have thousands of scientists and agronomists working to enable new biotech crops. We are unshaken in our belief in the safety of GMOs and are wholly committed to our GMO partners, added Giroux.
Like many other companies, Cargill’s affiliation with the Non-GMO Project is strictly limited to its rigorous verification process. Since there is no Federal standard for non-GMO products in the U.S., companies like ours use private standards that the market recognizes. This is the most requested third-party certification among our food and beverage customers.
Giroux added, “I want to reiterate, we do not share the non-GMO project’s position on GMO’s and would welcome other viable options in the marketplace.”
Audio: Amanda Zaluckyj, Farm advocate, attorney, blogger