Sanitarium continues its policy of not sourcing GM ingredients
In keeping with consumer expectations, Sanitarium is committed to providing foods that are not sourced from Genetically Modified (GM) crops. We continue to monitor consumers’ response to the issue as state governments approve the expansion of GM crops in Australia.
Ensuring that GM ingredients are not incorporated in our supply chain
In response to our commitment of providing foods that are not sourced from GM crops we ensure that none of our ingredients require us to label any product as containing GM materials in accordance with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code 1.5.2(4).
Where the confidence of consumers requires explicit assurance of non-GM status, we go beyond the food labelling content requirements by utilising a segregated “non-GM”supply chain, supported by comprehensive handling, testing and auditing protocols, to ensure that we meet consumer needs.
We also recognise that minor and unforeseen co-mingling of GM with non-GM ingredients may occur despite our best efforts and so we routinely monitor our performance to minimise this possibility. We are continually working to monitor and improve the systems we have in place to ensure that consumer expectations are met, by not using GM ingredients in our products.
On Pack Labelling
Sanitarium fully supports the Australian and New Zealand food regulations that require the consistent presence of genetically modified ingredients (above very low threshold levels) be indicated on product labels within or close to the ingredient list. The absence of genetic modification statements within our ingredient lists is testimony to our non-GM stance.
Sanitarium’s response to consumer concern
In 1999, in response to consumer concern about genetically modified foods, Sanitarium assured its consumers that the soy used in making So Good soymilk was non-GM. Sanitarium was the first food manufacturer in Australia to take this step.
Prior to making So Good non-GM, our food scientists and technical experts in conjunction with our suppliers assisted in establishing within our supply chain an international system referred to as Identity Preservation (IP). The IP process ensures the soy protein we use in this product is of known origin. The IP process starts with
non-GM seeds and traces them from planting right through to the final manufacturing process, with verification at each step. This gives Sanitarium assurance of the non-GM status of the soy protein used in So Good.
At the same time, we also worked closely with government health ministers and food industry bodies to bring about understanding of the meaning of non-GM and IP. We recommended the approach to GM labelling adopted by food regulators and the food industry. We did this because we believe consumers have a right to know the contents and source of the foods they enjoy.
The Future of Genetically Modified Foods
The use of biotechnology has the potential to offer improvements in the quantity, quality and acceptability of the world’s food supply. Sanitarium is not opposed to the use of biotechnology in the supply of foods. We support the responsible introduction of new biotechnology techniques in the supply of foods provided that consumer concerns about product safety, environmental impacts, the quality of information and ethics have been satisfactorily addressed. It is very important that consumers are given sufficient information and time to make informed choices.
The developers of foods that use biotechnology, industry lobby groups, government departments and regulatory authorities all have a part to play in educating the community so as to promote informed choices. It is essential that manufacturers also act to provide accurate information, point out misconceptions, and refute misinformation. This is not so much to assure public acceptance of the new technologies as to ensure sufficient time and information flow for consumers to make informed food choices.
In relation to the genetic modification of crops specifically, at this point in time we do not believe that consumer understanding, nor the scientific, political and commercial arguments have reached a point where all parties can agree on the key issues involving GM crops and foods, hence caution is warranted.
Published by the Communications Department – May 2008