Renewable Farming

GMO traits could hurt worse than tariffs on corn, bean exports to Europe

The fastest-growing food label amendment in America is the “Non-GMO Verified” sticker. In Germany, growth of a similar non-GMO verified seal is soaring by more than 25% annually — and accelerating.

June 7, 2018 — A headline today on the international Feed Navigator website: “Germany expects to see record Non-GMO food sales.” If you follow this link and read the details, you’ll detect the observation most meaningful to American soybean and corn growers. 

Alexander Hissting, general manager of Germany’s non-GMO certification service, was asked if dairy, poultry and meat producers could find enough non-GMO feed. He said: “We have growing supplies of European soy, and Brazilian soy producers keep stressing that they are able to adapt to a growth in demand.”

The point: If American growers keep insisting on pushing primarily GMO corn and beans into export, Brazilian and other growers will welcome the opportunity to displace our products. 

This underscores a prime reason we’ve encouraged U.S. growers of traited crops to transition toward certifiable non-GMO production. Even though the non-GMO corn and bean market isn’t outrunning U.S. production now, premiums over GMO could rise in coming seasons. 

The German label for non-GMO certification is Ohne GenTechnik. It’s managed by the German Association of Food without Genetic Engineering (VLOG). 

Earlier, the French government took moves to require labeling of meats which have been fed GMO grains.

You’re probably noting the U.S. seal below on foods in your local supermarket: The Non-GMO Project label, which over 14,000 U.S. food retailers use on products in their stores.

The American Non-GMO Verified Project makes these points on its website:

  • 50% of people surveyed in North America try to avoid GMOs in the food they are consuming (Nielsen, 2016)
  • 72% say that it is important to avoid GMOs when shopping, and 40% are looking for non-GMO claims on food (Consumer Reports, 2014)
  • Key reasons half or more of natural shoppers say they buy non-GMO: concerns about safety, increased availability where they shop, becoming more aware of the non-GMO issue (Market LOHAS, 2015)
  • 34% of Baby Boomers and 29% of Millennials surveyed actively avoid genetically modified foods in their diet (Mintel, February 2017)
  • 92% of American consumers think GMO food should be labeled (Consumer Reports, 2014)
  • 88% of Canadians support mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods (CBAN, 2015)