French politicians back mandatory labelling of GM feed and pesticide use

After a week of debates on the country’s Agriculture and Food Bill, French politicians have backed mandatory labelling for GM animal feed and pesticide use on fruit and vegetables but rejected measures to stop marketing unhealthy foods to children.

Read the full Food Navigator story by  Niamh Michail

Germany expects to see record Non-GMO food sales 

June 2018: Demand in Germany for Non-GMO milk and dairy products, eggs and poultry continues to grow, according to Feed Navigator. This year, sales of dairy, poultry and egg products that are certified with a government-backed Non-GMO food label are expected to reach food 7 bn Euro. – a 27% increase from 2017, says the German Association of Food without Genetic Engineering (VLOG).

Read the full FeedNavigator article by Jane Byrne.


Dannon reaching non-GMO milestones to achieve company pledge

Leading U.S. yogurt maker Dannon is moving according to plan on its pledge to source non-GMO ingredients for its products and to use milk from non-GMO fed cows. The company reached a significant milestone recently, achieving Non-GMO Project verification of several Dannon yogurt and “Danimals” smoothie products.

Ken Roseboro, Organic and Non-GMO Market News, July 26 2017

Non-GMO feed challenge

In 2016, Dannon announced its ambitious “Dannon Pledge,” which included commitments to use natural, non-GMO ingredients in its yogurt products, source non-GMO feed for its dairy cows, provide GMO transparency to consumers, and use more sustainable agriculture practices in its milk supply.

One of the biggest challenges was said to be sourcing enough non-GMO feed to meet the needs of Dannon’s dairy producers. An estimated 90 percent of feed produced in the U.S. is derived from genetically modified crops such as corn, soy, and alfalfa. There were doubts that enough non-GMO feed was available. Dannon CEO Mariano Lozano had described the feed initiative as a “massive undertaking,” involving the conversion of an estimated 80,000 acres to non-GMO feed crops.

“It seemed at the time it would be a challenge because we hadn’t done it before,” says Michael Neuwirth, Dannon’s senior director of external communication. “We had to use creativity, insights, and resources to find solutions.”

Dannon used a combination of approaches including purchasing non-GMO feed on the open market, using feed supplies of their own farmers, and finding farmers who grow non-GMO feed grains.

One of Dannon’s largest milk suppliers, Kansas-based McCarty Family Farms, successfully worked with its farm partners and had other farmers offer to sell them non-GMO feed.

“Thus far the challenges associated with sourcing non-GMO feed have been few and far between,” said Ken McCarty, co-owner and manager of McCarty Family Farms, a few months ago.

But Dannon will face another challenge next year when it moves its Oikos Greek yogurt products to non-GMO production because Greek yogurt uses three times as much milk as traditional yogurt.

Still, Neuwirth is confident. “We now have the benefit of figuring out the feed issue for Danimals and Dannon. We are more experienced.”

Sourcing milk from non-GMO fed cows separates Dannon from its biggest competitor, Chobani, which uses non-GMO ingredients but not non-GMO feed. Chobani announced a commitment to source non-GMO feed in 2014 but has not achieved that goal.

Non-GMO Project verification

Using non-GMO feed is one of the requirements for Non-GMO Project verification, which Dannon recently achieved for several products. These include Dannon Whole Milk Fruit Yogurt in eight flavors, Dannon Whole Milk Plain Yogurt in quart containers, and Danimals Smoothies in six flavors.

Vincent Crasnier, Dannon Pledge lead, says the Non-GMO Project verification has gone smoothly.

“We’ve been learning the process as we’ve progressed. We have a sophisticated process but we have been pleased with the process. Segregation was the most important thing, from the seed to the cup.”

Dannon had to install stainless steel storage tanks to keep non-GMO milk segregated from other milk supplies. The company also replaced GMO-risk beet sugar with cane sugar and substituted some preservatives such as potassium sorbate and malic acid with lemon juice concentrate to simplify the ingredients for a “cleaner” label.

Dannon is well on its way to achieving its Pledge goals. By the end of this year, all Dannon brand products will contain only non-GMO ingredients and will be made with milk from cows fed non-GMO feed. Products from the Oikos and Danimals brands will follow by the end of 2018. These three brands represent about half of Dannon’s U.S. sales volume. According to Neuwirth, Dannon’s market share has increased since the company announced the Pledge last year.

Another aspect of Dannon’s Pledge is GMO transparency. Since the end of 2016, Dannon has started labeling all of its products containing GMO ingredients. These products contain the label statement “Partially produced with genetic engineering.”

Last year, several major agriculture groups, including the National Milk Producers Federation, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, and others sent a letter to Dannon criticizing the company’s pledge about their non-GMO commitment.

Dannon defended its stance. “We value open discussions and strive to be transparent with consumers about what matters to them,” Neuwirth says. “We’ve been clear about our belief that the currently approved GMOs are safe. We also believe we can promote advanced sustainable practices with non-GMO crops as well.”

Further, Neuwirth says the Dannon Pledge is “about doing right by our consumers and farmers and also our business. It’s helping us provide more options to shoppers, and they recognize and appreciate that and are responding to it. It’s been a great journey for us.”

NZMP Launches its First Ingredients in North America to Meet the Non-GMO Project Standard

NZMP, Fonterra’s global dairy ingredients brand, has launched a range of dairy ingredients to help North American food and beverage manufacturers address consumer demand for food without genetically modified ingredients and information about where their food comes from.

Non-GMO Project, April 6 2017

The new NZMP ingredient range meets the Non-GMO Project Standard, North America’s most trusted and recognized seal in non-GMO products. Manufacturers can use a range of NZMP ingredients for their own Non-GMO Project Standard Verified products [1].

Joe Coote, Regional President of Ingredients Americas, said, “New Zealand is well recognized for its unique pasture-raised farming practices and regulatory control of GMOs. This new NZMP product range
allows food and beverage manufacturers to leverage both the Non-GMO Project claim and the New Zealand grass-fed advantage in a way that’s highly relevant to US consumers.”

Mr. Coote says US consumers increasingly want to know where their food comes from and how it was made.

“Research shows that over half of US protein consumers and more than a third of US dairy product consumers are ‘very interested’ in a non-GMO claim. Forty percent of consumers are also willing to pay a premium for dairy products with a non-GMO claim [2].”

NZMP worked with the Non-GMO Project because it is widely recognised by consumers and provides robust standards.

The Non-GMO Project Verified seal is the fastest growing label in the natural products industry, representing $19.2 billion in annual sales. It already appears on 43,000 verified products and is among the most trusted non-GMO labels for consumers [3].

NZMP’s Non-GMO Project Verified range is independently verified by Where Food Comes From, Inc., an independent, third-party food verification company.

“North American food and beverage manufacturers have been using NZMP ingredients for decades and value our deep dairy expertise. This expertise, coupled with a widely recognized non-GMO product claim, is a powerful offering for manufacturers, helping them to differentiate from competitors, and help to increase market share and margins,” says Mr. Coote.

About the Non-GMO Project
The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers and providing verified non-GMO choices.

Non-GMO Project requirements and NZMP:
The Standard requires compliance with ingredients, additives, and inputs; and that they do not contain, are not derived from, and are not produced with the help of GMOs.

The Non-GMO Project has required limits on feed which may come from genetically modified sources (less than 5%).

To ensure the cows receive adequate nutrition throughout the year, non-New Zealand supplementary feed, which may be classified as GM risk, is sometimes used. This usage is strictly monitored to ensure it meets Non-GMO Project Standards and the range is sourced exclusively from selected New Zealand farms to ensure that verification can be applied to a specific product line. These supplementary feeds make up less than 2% of the total ration that our cows in New Zealand consume on average.
Our Non-GMO Project Verification is independently verified and confirmed by Where Food Comes From, Inc. For further information on the Non-GMO Project go to

About NZMP
NZMP is the business to business dairy ingredients brand of Fonterra. Trusted globally, NZMP ingredients are sold in more than 100 countries and can be found at the heart of some of the world’s most famous food and nutrition brands. NZMP has one of the broadest ranges of ingredients
in the dairy industry, providing hundreds of solutions to meet the needs of customers every day.

Backed by Fonterra’s New Zealand grass-fed farming heritage and expertise, world-class processing and leading quality standards, NZMP ingredients deliver real market advantage, trusted for their high
performance and exceptional quality.

About Fonterra
Fonterra is a global leader in dairy nutrition – the preferred supplier of dairy ingredients to many of the world’s leading food companies. Fonterra is a farmer-owned co-operative and the largest processor of
milk in the world. It is one of the world’s largest investors in dairy research and innovation, drawing on generations of dairy expertise to produce more than two million tonnes of dairy ingredients, value added
dairy ingredients, specialty ingredients, and consumer products globally.

[1] NZMP Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients meet the Non-GMO Project Standard. In order for food and beverage manufacturers to claim Non-GMO Project Verification on their products, they will need to undertake the process of gaining certification according to the Non-GMO Project Standard.

[2] Based on nationally representative samples of 318 consumers of dairy and dairy based products, and who purchase/consume dairy/dairy-based products and 311 consumers that regularly consume at least one type of protein enriched products (protein beverages/shakes, protein powders, bars, etc.). Source: NZMP Consumer Research conducted by ABN Impact (2016 October, among USA consumers)


Farmers rise to GE-free cheese demand

A group of farmer shareholders in the European co-op FrieslandCampina will start producing milk without using genetically engineered animal feed.

Sudesh Kissun. Dairy News, 9 May 2017

The few hundred farmers living near two FrieslandCampina cheese plants in Germany will participate in the pilot project. They will get a premium price for the GE-free milk, to be made into cheese for the German market.

The products will conform to the VLOG standard set by a German association responsible for certifying products and issuing the Ohne Gentechnik label. The VLOG association was founded in 2010 and is recognised by the German government.

A number of FrieslandCampina dairy farmers in Germany are already producing milk bearing the Ohne Gentechnik label for Landliebe products.

FrieslandCampina says the move will capitalise on the growing demand from German supermarkets for foodstuffs produced without any genetic engineering in the production chain.

A few hundred member dairy farmers in the vicinity of the cheese plants in Born and Workum have the opportunity to participate in the pilot. These may give their cows only feed that meets the VLOG criteria.

“It is of major importance that no use is made of feed produced with or from genetically modified organisms, like much soy meal coming from the US,” the co-op says.

“Locally grown roughage, such as grass and maize, which is by far the most important feed for cows, does meet the VLOG criteria. Before the milk may be used in products featuring the VLOG label, the cows must have been fed in conformity with the VLOG criteria for three months.”

As a result of the higher feed costs at the farms, and higher logistic and production costs, cheese with the VLOG label costs more than regular cheese. Participating dairy farmers will receive an extra $1.59/100 kgMS on top of the

FrieslandCampina guaranteed price for farm milk to compensate for the higher feed costs.

FrieslandCampina says its cheese plants in Born and Workum (the Netherlands) will be prepared for separate processing of the different milk flows.

On genetic modification, the co-op says it remains open to “research, innovation, basic materials and products in which, in a responsible way, use is made of genetic modification proven safe and approved as such by the responsible authorities”.