Cargill PR Issues Regarding GMOs

Kristen Leigh Painter reported on Saturday at the Minneapolis Star Tribune Online that, “As soon as Cargill announced that an outside group had certified more than a dozen of its ingredients as non-GMO, the agribusiness giant was publicly scourged by some of its closest allies.

“The moment should have been a good one for the world’s largest agriculture business. But a backlash came fast and furious online, pitting familiar factions against one another: those for and those against ­genetically modified foods.

The situation highlights the tricky balance large food companies are trying to strike among competing interests. For a sprawling company like Cargill, it shows the challenge of appeasing its customers without alienating its suppliers.”

The article pointed out that, “Critics were particular vexed by Cargill’s choice of third-party ­certifier: the Non-GMO Project, which opposes genetic modification in food production. Since Minnetonka-based Cargill is one of the world’s largest producers of genetically modified foods, many of its suppliers, as well as some in the science community, felt betrayed.”

Ms. Painter explained that, “The federal government did pass a law in July requiring all food manufacturers to label products — either with a word, picture or QR code — that contain GMOs. The law provides a definition for bioengineered foods that some groups, including the Food and Drug Administration, have said may be too narrow. This leaves third-party verifiers as the most sought-after standard.”

The Star Tribune article added that, “While Cargill may be accused of supporting an organization that is trying to change its supply chain and activities, the company has never been shy about its support of farmers and GMO technology.

“‘We fully recognize that GMO technology is essential and indispensable to sustainably feed the world’s rapidly expanding population,’ [Randy Giroux, Cargill’s vice president of food safety]­ said in an e-mail. ‘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.'”

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