Novartis to Stop GM Ingredients in its foods
|January 9, 2007||Posted by Staff under Archive, Progress Report, The Progress Report|
GM Company Will Clear Its Own Food Products of GM Ingredients
Novartis Ends Use of Gene-Altered Foods
Amazing, isn’t it? Novartis, which produces all sorts of genetically-modified seeds, has decided to stop putting genetically-modified ingredients in the foods that it makes! Here are a few excerpts from news stories on this remarkable development.
Novartis A.G., one of the world’s leading agricultural biotechnology companies, acknowledged that it has eliminated genetically engineered ingredients from all of its food products.
The policy was disclosed in a letter sent by a company official to the environmental group Greenpeace and later confirmed by the company. Novartis, which makes Ovaltine, Gerber baby foods, Wasa crackers and various health foods, said in the letter that it had basically achieved its goal by June 30.
The production of a candy bar “Cereal Chocosoja” has been stopped entirely, as no guarantee of its non-GMO quality could be given.
Novartis decided to abolish the common practice of double standards, when high quality GE-free food is sold to the consumers in Europe and unlabelled GE food is sold to consumers in other parts of the world.
“With the current sentiment among the population towards GMOs, we have decided to take all necessary practical measures to avoid using genetically modifed organisms in our products worldwide,” Novartis said in its letter.
The Novartis policy even goes as far as demanding certificates from its ingredient suppliers stating their products are GM-free.
“Consumer health, being in a consumer-driven market, has to deliver what consumers want. We have to respond to the changing needs of the various markets,” the spokesman said.
Novartis is the first big food company to eliminate genetically modified ingredients from all its foods worldwide, Greenpeace said. Various companies, such as Frito-Lay and McDonald’s, are dropping genetically modified corn or potatoes from some of their food in the United States. And many companies are eliminating them in food sold in Europe, where consumer resistance to such products is particularly strong.
The move could put Novartis in a delicate spot because its agricultural division continues to sell genetically modified seeds, particularly corn seeds with bacterial genes that allow the corn plant to produce a toxin that kills the corn borer. Novartis is a member of a coalition of agricultural biotechnology companies that is spending $50 million to assert the safety of such crops.
“It will be interesting to see what they are going to be telling farmers now when they’re selling biotech seeds,” said Charles Margulis, the leader of Greenpeace’s American campaign against such foods.
Novartis’s annual food sales in the United States total $1.2 billion, Mr. Grabowski said. More than half of that is in Gerber products, and much of the rest is in special diet food.
Novartis is not the first biotechnology company to have double standards.
In December last year, U.S. rival Monsanto was embarrassed by press reports that it had banned GM foods from its own staff canteen run by an independent caterer at one of its British offices.
Want more background? For The Progress Report’s original editorial on this subject, click here.
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