Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are often used to create herbicide-resistant crops such as soybeans, and their use continues to be a hot debate in the food industry. Food Manufacturing got one perspective on the issue when it spoke with Sara Loveday, spokesperson for Silk, who recently announced its enrollment in the Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program.
Q: Why did you choose to be a non-GMO product?
Since its inception in 1996, Silk has been committed to providing consumers with non-GMO plant-based protein beverages. Enrollment in the Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program was the next logical step for the brand in this mission. Silk already takes extensive steps to keep its soybeans free of GMOs, including following a comprehensive set of testing protocols to detect GMOs. From seed to manufacturing, Silk’s soybeans are tested four times to makes sure they are non-GMO.
Q: Why do you view GMOs negatively?
As organisms that have been created through genetic engineering that allows DNA from one species to be injected into another, GMOs are organisms that do not occur naturally. This raises concerns about their safety and potential health risks, and with questionable research to alleviate these concerns, many consumers have opted to exclude GMOs from their diets.
Q: What are some of the health risks associated with GMOs?
A: According to Jeffrey Smith, an internationally-recognized GMO expert and author of Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, GMOs have been linked to thousands of toxic or allergic-type reactions and have shown adverse or unexplained side effects in a variety of independent studies. As more research is done in this area, we expect to learn of additional health risks associated with the consumption of GMOs.
Q: What are the benefits of non-GMO products?
In choosing to purchase and consume non-GMO products, consumers can ensure they are getting high-quality products made without modified ingredients, and this is no small issue. According to a recent CBS/New York Times poll, 53 percent of consumers said they would not buy food that has been genetically modified. As more brands, like Silk, complete the Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program and can place the Non-GMO Project’s verification seal on its packaging, consumers can feel good knowing they can trust the Non-GMO status of these products.
Q: How have consumers responded to the fact that your products are non-GMO?
We have always received favorable responses from consumers when it comes to the extensive steps we take to ensure Silk’s soybeans are GMO-free. Since our enrollment in the Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program, we have received comments from consumers who appreciate our continued dedication to providing them with non-GMO soymilk options. We look forward to placing the Non-GMO Project’s verification seal on our packaging once we have completed the verification process, which will better help consumers identify our soymilk products as non-GMO.
Q: Do you see more companies getting on board with non-GMO initiatives in the future?
It is our hope that other companies dedicated to providing consumers with non-GMO products will follow our lead and enroll in the Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program. We appreciate the Non-GMO project’s efforts to help consumers make informed choices and avoid products made with GMOs simply by looking for the Non-GMO Project’s verification seal on their favorite products.
Interview by Lindsey Coblentz, Associate Editor