By Stacy Malkan, Originally posted on U.S. Right to Know

The worldwide meals conglomerate Cargill is ramping up commercial-scale manufacturing of its genetically engineered sweetener, EverSweet, in a brand new $50 million manufacturing facility that started working this week in Blair, Nebraska. The plant will “be producing enough EverSweet to sweeten many millions of bottles/cans of soft drinks or servings of yogurt each month,” in accordance to a Cargill spokesman.

“Non-Artificial” = GMO

man in lab coat with test tube

Cargill is advertising and marketing its new stevia substitute as “non-artificial.” But what does that imply? Consumers who click on on the hyperlink supplied within the press launch won’t get a straight reply. The internet web page twists itself in knots attempting to describe the brand new course of, which entails genetically engineering yeast to convert sugar molecules right into a substance that mimics the style of stevia, as a “centuries-old technique” — with out as soon as mentioning genetic engineering or the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) used to make the product.

Cargill advised the Star Tribune it doesn’t market EverSweet as “natural” — so “non-artificial” it’s. But the subterfuge doesn’t finish there.

Cargill — which former Congressman Henry Waxman’s environmental group, Mighty Earth, named the “worst company in the world” in 2019 for (amongst different issues) its “repeated insistence on standing in the way of global progress on sustainability” — markets EverSweet as “sustainably” produced. That declare, as we reported in a 2017 Huffington Post article, was cooked up by PR strategists tasked with determining how to make vat-produced elements sound palatable to shoppers who’re demanding recent, pure meals with clear, easy labels.

Framing Eversweet as Sustainable

Corporations and buyers with their sights set on transferring stevia — and different high-value plant-based flavors and fragrances — off the farms and into the labs, met in a 2014 technique session to talk about how to promote this idea to shoppers. PR strategists on the assembly really helpful avoiding phrases like “synthetic biology” and “genetic engineering” (too scary; an excessive amount of backlash), and recommended going with extra imprecise descriptions akin to “fermentation derived” and “nature identical.” They really helpful focusing reporters on tales of hope and promise and making meals activists “feel like we are all marching under the same banner” for meals sustainability, transparency, and meals sovereignty.

Companies and shoppers who actually do care about these ideas would do effectively to look behind the hype. In Cargill’s body, Eversweet is “sustainable” as a result of it strikes manufacturing off the land. But it actually doesn’t; the corporate’s new $50 million “fermentation facility,” located within the coronary heart of GMO Roundup Ready corn nation, will depend upon these pesticide-sprayed crops — or another sugar supply grown on the land — to feed the yeast in its vats to make EverSweet. Its press launch makes use of the buzzwords of sustainability however offers no particulars to again up the claims. We reached out to the corporate to ask for extra particulars; no response but, however we’ll add any feedback we obtain.

GMO Stevia’s Worldwide Impact

woman with bag of harvested stevia
Photo Courtesy of ETC Group

Meanwhile, farmers in nations like Paraguay have been sustainably farming stevia for generations, and so they make an excellent dwelling cultivating the crop, stories the ETC Group. The World Economic Forum famous in a survey of main international dangers that “the invention of cheap, synthetic alternatives to high-value agricultural exports… could suddenly destabilize vulnerable economies by removing a source of income on which farmers rely.” Moreover, poor farmers have been actively inspired to put money into stevia as a result of its cultivation will help protect fragile and distinctive ecosystems.

Avoiding GMOs Can Be Tricky

For shoppers within the U.S., it’s getting tougher to keep away from the brand new genetically engineered meals which can be quietly making their means to grocery shops with out clear labeling. However, licensed natural or non-GMO verified stay two requirements dedicated to avoiding artificial biology and genetically engineered elements.

Cargill dubbed the “Worst of the Worst”

As for Cargill, it’s the largest privately held firm within the U.S., larger even than the infamous Koch Industries, and its footprint extends all over the world, notes former congressman Waxman, chairman of the Mighty Earth marketing campaign, of their July report naming Cargill the Worst Company within the World. “We recognize this is an audacious claim. There are, alas, many companies that could vie for this dubious honor. But this report provides extensive and compelling evidence to back it up… In my 40-year long career in Congress, I took on a range of companies that engaged in abusive practices. I have seen firsthand the harmful impact of businesses that do not bring their ethics with them to work. But Cargill stands out.”

Editor’s Note:

Want to know extra about which sweeteners are healthiest — and which aren’t? We wrote an article about that! Click right here to learn it now.

Tell us within the feedback:

  • Do you use stevia?
  • Are you involved about unlabeled GMOs in our meals provide?
  • What do you consider Cargill’s declare that Eversweet is “non-artificial” and “sustainable”?

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