Traceability tops North American Summit Agenda
The North American edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit will hone in
on food traceability. As the battle for labeling of Genetically Modified
Organisms (GMOs) continues in the US food industry, retailers and
consumers are increasingly asking questions about transparency,
production methods and provenance. Taking place in San Francisco on
21-22 January, the summit will cover such developments in the context of
traceability of food ingredients.
Labeling and identification of GMOs is a major focus. Sarah Bird, board
member of Just label It! and Organic Trade Association will give an
update on legislative developments, including Vermontís labeling law and
recent ballots. Following Colorado and Oregon, what other states are
likely to hold GM labeling ballots in 2015?
In the absence of mandatory labeling, an update will be given on
voluntary GMO labeling schemes. Kenneth Ross, CEO of Global ID, will
highlight vulnerabilities in global supply chains for food ingredients.
How can food and ingredient firms guarantee non-GMO supply chains? With
a growing number of natural food retailers like Whole Foods Market
taking a pro-labeling stance, the National Cooperative Grocers
Association shows how retailers can improve transparency.
Sustainable ingredients are also featured. Many food and beverage
companies are reducing their environmental footprints by using
sustainable ingredients, whilst others are using such ingredients for
product innovations. Kristina Locke, Founder of Conscious Food,
highlights developments in natural sweeteners. With palm oil continuing
to be a thorny sourcing issue for the food industry, IOI Loders Croklaan
and Daabon Organic will give an update on sustainable palm oil
production and consumption. Hampton Creek will show how sustainable
proteins are creating innovative meat alternatives. Other papers will
cover sustainable value chains, gluten-free products, and superfood
The customer behavior session will discuss approaches to encourage
sustainable purchasing and consumption of food products. Jon Dettling,
Managing Director of US Quantis, will present the latest environmental
footprint measurements for food production, consumption and waste.
Globescan will show how consumer attitudes towards sustainable products
and foods are evolving. Matt Jones, chair of Slow Food USA, will give
case studies on how positive consumer change can be instigated. Keller &
Heckman will give an update on the regulatory environment for marketing
claims, whilst another seminar features mobile apps for traceability.
This fifth North American edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit aims
to highlight major developments in food traceability, sustainable
ingredients and customer behaviour. With consumer expectations towards
sustainability and food products rising, there is a greater need for
transparency and traceability in food supply chains. By showcasing
industry best-practices, the summit will cover major advances in these
Organized by Organic Monitor, the aim of the Sustainable Foods Summit is
to explore new horizons for eco-labels and sustainability in the food
industry by discussing key industry issues in a high level forum. The
North American edition will be hosted at the Hilton San Francisco
Financial District, San Francisco on 21-22nd January 2015. More
information is available from the
'Just Mayo' Lawsuit
Unilever U.S. division said it has
withdrawn its lawsuit against food start-up Hampton Creek over false
advertising and unfair competition related to its Just Mayo product.
Unilever, famous for its mayonnaise brand Hellmann's, had filed a suit
against Hampton Creek earlier this year accusing the company of
advertising Just Mayo, an eggless spread, as mayonnaise.
Unilever alleged that the spread could not be defined as mayonnaise
under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's definition as it did not
Common dictionary definitions of mayonnaise similarly define mayonnaise
as "a dressing made chiefly of egg yolks, vegetable oils, and vinegar or
lemon juice," the company had said in its lawsuit.
The case gained national attention when a petition on Change.org
gathered 112,000 supporters asking Unilever to "stop
bullying sustainable food companies."
Neither company was immediately available for comment outside normal
Source: Yerepouni Daily
News / Reuters
Debate About Vermont GMO Law Continues
Republicans have introduced a bill that would block states from
regulating genetically engineered ingredients. Opponents of the bill say
it would undermine Vermont's GMO labeling law, which is to take effect
Rep. Kate Webb, D-Shelburne, who was a lead sponsor on the Vermont law,
has testified at a U.S. House subcommittee
hearing on the Food and Drug Administration's role to regulate
genetically engineeredfood. She urged lawmakers to drop bill H.R. 4322.
"I was the lead sponsor on Act 120, a law that simply gives consumers
the right to know if the food they purchase in Vermont is genetically
engineered," she told the subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy
and Commerce. "The law is at risk should H.R. 4322 become law."
Members of the Vermont Right to Know Coalition hosted a news conference
at the Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier on Wednesday to oppose the
federal bill, known as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act.
Supporters of state labeling requirements have dubbed the bill the DARK
Act, which stands for to Deny Americans the Right to Know.
Vermont's law would require manufacturers to label certain products
containing genetically modified ingredients. Trade groups sued Vermont
this summer, alleging the law is unconstitutional and places an undue
burden on producers and retailers.
The Congressional panel also heard testimony from the head of the Snack
Food Association, a trade group joining in the lawsuit to overturn
Vermont's law. The group seeks to stop mandatory labeling and prefers a
national approach over a patchwork of regulations.
Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-KS, the lead sponsor on the legislation, agrees. He
said his bill would not block consumer choice because some manufacturers
may choose to label their products for a marketing advantage.
"There is nothing in this legislation that denies any consumer, any
capacity, to know precisely what it is they are eating. If any willing
provider deems it appropriate, and finds customer demand to provide
information to their customers about the nature of that product, no
one's right is being impinged today nor would it be if this bill became
law," he said.
Tom Dempsey, CEO of the Snack Food Association and former president of
UTZ Quality Foods, Inc., said nearly all staples used in snack foods,
like corn, soy and sweeteners, are genetically engineered.
He said said the "balance of the products" on the shelves contain
GMOs, therefore, manufactures should label non-GMO foods voluntarily,
just as they do for organic products.
"We do not put non-organic on the balance of the products," he said. "So
it seems to me that forcing a mandatory labeling law onto products that
are the predominant ones on the supermarket shelves goes against common
sense and goes against convention and practice that we already have in
the food industry," he said.
However, Webb told the subcommittee state lawmakers considered the
impact of a non-GMO certification on small businesses.
"The cost for a small business to go through the Non-GMO Project
(certification) is prohibitive for them, which is why we were looking
for the expense to go to the larger industry," she said.
Pompeo's bill calls for a voluntary label unless the FDA determines
genetically engineered foods are harmful to human health. But a senior
official with the FDA and a professor testified before the subcommittee
and stated GMOs are not scientifically proven to be more harmful than
Alison Van Eenennaam, a scientist on animal genomics and biotechnology
at the University of California, Davis, said there is clear consensus
among the world's leading scientists that consuming genetically
engineered foods is not a risk to human health. She said the consensus
is stronger than the consensus around global warming.
"There are no unique risks posed by this particular breeding method,"
she said. But, she added, "We're talking about a label of how it was
Some foods are genetically engineered to withstand heavy applications of
herbicides. Since companies began selling herbicide-resistant
genetically engineered crops in the 1990s, herbicide use has also
increased. A 2013 study found nearly half of U.S. producers reported
herbicide resistant weeds on their farms in 2012.
So-called super weeds can force farmers to spend more on
herbicides, labeling proponents say.
But Stacey Forshee, a fifth generation farmer and regional director for
the Kansas Farm Bureau, told the committee she farms 2,000 acres of
corn, soy, alfalfa, wheat, and other feed crops for her 700 cattle. She
said she uses biotechnology save up to 40 percent on fuel, fertilizer
and pesticides. She supported the bill because she does not think GMOs
Forshee joined several lawmakers who preferred a national solution. Rep.
Morgan Griffith, R-VA, a member of the committee, called for uniform
labeling. "I'm convinced that we need to have
a national label," he said. He said among his top concerns is the
confusion consumers may feel that they are buying two different products
in two states based on the mandate.
But labeling proponents turned to states and localities because Congress
has not yet acted to pass any labeling legislation. "To date, neither
the current [Obama] administration nor this Congress has acted to inform
and protect consumers with this labeling," Webb said in her testimony.
The future direction of non-GMO labelling in
food industry will be discussed in the upcoming Sustainable Foods Summit.
Food traceability is a focal theme of the North American edition,
hosted in San Francisco on
21-22 January 2015.
More details are on the
Source: Brattleboro Reformer