by Heather Callaghan
Cargill just announced its introduction of a soybean oil made from identity-preserved (IdP), conventionally-bred (non-GM) soybeans for “customers interested in exploring a non-GMO claim on their product label.” The oil is refined in Cargill’s Des Moines, Iowa plant in a process certified by SGS, a global inspection, verification, testing and certification company.
Does that mean Cargill is distancing itself from the food genetic modification techniques of biotech?
Not by a long shot.
Despite the many merits of biotechnology, consumer interest in food and beverage products made from non-GM ingredients is growing, creating opportunities and challenges for food manufacturers and food service operators.
Cargill says supplies for its new oil are limited, but they have signed on at least one food manufacturer. According to Theis, producing this oil was intricate due to finding a non-GM supply and taking care to “avoid co-mingling with bioengineered crops during harvesting, transportation, storage, handling, processing and refining.”
Developing industrial scale IdP products is difficult but something Cargill is well-suited for because of our knowledge of consumer trends, formulation experience, supply-chain management expertise, manufacturing infrastructure and strong relationships with farmers.
While Cargill supports GM food production, they boast the following:
Cargill has extensive global experience helping food manufacturers’ source non-GM crops and ingredients made from non-GM crops. The combination of Cargill’s portfolio of non-GM sweeteners, starches, texturizers, oils, cocoa and chocolate, fibers, and stabilizer systems, coupled with R&D and global supply chain capabilities, allows Cargill to help customers manage both the product development and supply chain challenges associated with reformulating to non-GMO.
Okay, Cargill is riding the PR fence. They escaped the PR scandal of “pink slime” because their process for treating the meat filler includes citric acid instead of ammonium hydroxide gas. Citric acid sounds lovely like lemonade, but is actually made from the fermentation of crude sugars from corn – most of which is genetically modified. The hydrolyzed proteins create the release of free glutamic acid (like MSG), triggering allergies in people who can’t handle MSG. So again, let’s not forget that they fully support genetic modification in agriculture.
Should we get our deep fryers ready for the new oil? Not by a long shot. Western soy production, even non-GMO, has a deep, dark side – especially with its negative reproductive health effects and the proliferation of soy allergies in the U.S.
However, this announcement is really something to ponder. There were admissions of consumer power, the difficulty of finding non-GMO sources and just how difficult it is to keep crops from becoming contaminated with GM seeds.
It means that despite the corporate lauding of genetic modification, they can only to continue to push it as far as it is profitable – and palatable. Rising consumer awareness and demand is finally starting to tip the massive tower in its own direction.