Ben & Jerry's to cut genetically modified ingredients
The Vermont ice cream maker, which cultivates an image of wholesomeness, says it could take until next year to complete the job.
It does, but now the Unilever (UL) brand is promising to eliminate the controversial food products, pledging to go completely GMO-free by 2014. Currently, about 80% of ingredients in its U.S. and Canadian ice creams are sourced as non-GMO products.
"We have a long history of siding with consumers and their right to know what’s in their food. We fought long and hard for labeling of rBGH, which was the first genetically engineered technology used in the US food system," Ben & Jerry's said.
Ben & Jerry's announcement underscores the difficulty for consumers in identifying food products that contain GMOs, which have been genetically engineered to resist herbicides and insecticides, such as "Roundup ready" plants that resist the herbicide Roundup, allowing farmers to treat their fields without killing their crops. GMO critics believe the altered crops could introduce new allergens or toxins into the food system and the environment.
The advocacy group Just Label It says most Americans want mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods, although no law currently requires companies to disclose which ingredients are GMOs. (Perhaps it's no coincidence that Ben & Jerry's home state -- Vermont -- may become the country's first to mandate GMO labeling.)
The ice cream maker's position also illustrates how natural food brands sometimes come into conflict with their corporate parents. Unilever, for example, donated about half a million dollars to defeat a California ballot initiative that would have required companies to disclose GMOs, according to Natural News, which has called on consumers to stop buying Ben & Jerry's in protest. It also singled out other popular "natural" brands whose parent companies donated money to defeat the measure, such as Cascadian Farm owner General Mills (GIS).
Ben & Jerry's delivered some sobering news in its announcement, noting that more than half of processed food products in grocery stores contain at least one GMO. "It's likely that almost all of us eat foods that contain GMOs on a regular basis," the company said.
Then there's the complexity of Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavors, which can include almost 40 ingredients. Finding replacements that aren't only GMO-free but are also fair-trade and then making sure the products arrive at factories on time are among the reasons the company's transition away from GMOs may last into 2014.
As Ben & Jerry's noted, "It's a monumental task."
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages punctuated a solid week with a subdued Friday session. The S&P 500 shed 0.2% to narrow its weekly gain to 1.7%, while the Nasdaq Composite (+0.1%) displayed relative strength. The tech-heavy index finished the week in line with the benchmark average.
Market participants went into today's session expecting to hear some new insight from Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who delivered the keynote address at this year's Jackson Hole Symposium. Unfortunately, the ... More
More Market News
These companies won't soar like other plays in the sector, but they make for great income sources.
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'