Going GMO Free, A Food Manufacturer’s Perspective

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This post is sponsored by Barbara’s, manufacturer of Non-GMO Project Verified cereals and snacks.

We’ve been following the GMO saga quite closely for the last few years. Genetically modified ingredients are found in hundreds of thousands of food products in the US. That’s because the majority of corn, soy, and sugar beets in America are genetically modified. These three ingredients, in some form or other, are present in many foods.

While the scientific community continues to bicker as to the long term safety of genetic modification, many consumers are fighting for the right to know if their food contains GMOs, via product package labels. At the same tine, several big food companies are spending millions to halt labeling initiative.

There are, however, companies that are more forward looking and believe that customers have a right to know what is in the foods they eat and feed their families. One such company is cereal manufacturer Barbara’s (formerly known as Barbara’s Bakery). We sat down with Katrina Yolen, Director of Marketing at Barbara’s to learn about the changes the company went through to become certified Non-GMO.

Fooducate:  How long has Barbara’s been in business?

Yolen: Barbara’s was founded in 1971 by 17-year old Barbara Jaffe in Palo Alto, California. Barbara was passionate about creating great-tasting food without refined sugar or artificial additives or preservatives. She actually started baking breads, but as the company grew into a successful wholesale business, the focus shifted mostly to breakfast cereals.

Fooducate:  When did Barbara’s decide to go non-GMO?

Yolen: Several years ago, in a survey of our most frequent purchasers, we learned that 90 percent of them wanted their cereals and snacks to be GMO-free. Without choosing sides on the science of GMOs or their impact on human health, we realized that many consumers are truly concerned about long term effects of GMOs. Our customers have expressed a strong interest in purchasing GMO-free foods and we’ve always listened closely to the desires of our loyal fans.

Fooducate: How long did it take you to become Non-GMO Project Verified?

Yolen: The path to earning Non-GMO Project Verification isn’t easy. The process can take several months or years depending on many factors including how many products a company enrolls, the number of ingredients in a product and the level of evaluation required for each ingredient. Barbara’s has made this a top priority and invested heavily in the pursuit, and we’ve come a long way in a short time. Currently 30 of our 37 products are Non-GMO Project Verified, up from just 1 product 3 years ago.

Fooducate: Has sourcing non-GMO ingredients been a challenge?

Yolen: After enrolling our products in the certification process, we learned that 40 percent already met the rigorous standards set by the Non-GMO Project. However, with other products, we had to find new ingredient suppliers which included sourcing from the United States, Canada, Europe and Latin America. This is not always easy, and it takes time. We anticipate earning verification for additional products in the months ahead with the ultimate goal of reaching 100 percent verification.

Fooducate: Why Puffins?

Yolen: Barabra’s has been committed to making a positive contribution to the world with donations to non-profit organizations. One such program is the National Audubon Society’s Project Puffin program, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, which promotes responsible stewardship of puffin colonies on historic nesting islands in the Gulf of Maine.

Fooducate: Thank you.

Want to win a year’s worth (24 boxes) of Barbara’s cereals?

Here’s how: Use your Fooducate app (free for Android and iPhone) as follows:

  • Scan the barcode of any Barbara’s cereal
  • Each scan increases your chances to win
  • Contest ends February 28th at midnight PST
  • One winner a week will be notified via email

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  • Kittaly

    I used to buy Barbera’s but then I found this. http://cornucopia.org/cereal-scorecard/view-brand.php?id=32

    I’d like an explanation. Why remove a rather important label if there’s nothing to hide?

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      It’s outdated

      • Kittaly

        That doesn’t answer my question in the least. Again, why remove a label that can only help you?

        It can’t be all that outdated. When I started the label was there now it’s not.

        • Dani

          Of course the fact that it’s outdated is relevant. It means your complaint is moot. It says 30 out of 37 products are labeled non-GMO. Unless this article completely made that up, it sounds pretty good to me.

  • vroomvsr

    Once again every decides to hate on GMO foods. I think customers should be able to see if their food is GMO or not but their really is nothing bad about GMO.

    • Dani

      Why are you on fooducate then?

      • vroomvsr

        I’m just saying that everyone here hates GMO’s without any real logic or they use flawed logic

        • Vera

          Please look up France’s research on what happens when rats are fed gmo. Sorry but the infertility, massive cancer tumors and premature death sound pretty bad to me! From the water we drink, air we breathe and food we eat, there’s a reason why obesity and other poor health indicators have skyrocketed and have become a norm in the US.

          • http://dottotrot.wordpress.com Dot ToTrot

            It’s easy to hate on GMOs when you can go to your local health food grocery store like a Whole Foods and have choices. Most people around the world don’t have that option. Without GMOs there is even less food on planet to feed people. As for data on GMOs, keep in mind most nutrition data (especially about obesity) is garbage and cherry picked. Should consumers have more info. Sure. Don’t mean it’s based on sound data.

        • Leah

          Let me explain, GMO’s have never been evaluated by the FDA for safety because Monsanto’s high-ups are also the FDA’s high ups. It’s all about $ without giving crap about our health. Does altering the DNA of a vegetable with a bacteria’s DNA sound safe? They also spray tons of pest/herbicides on these veggies because the veggies are altered to be resistant to it. Why wouldn’t it be safety evaluated if they didn’t think it could cause problems? Actual medical physicians have been finding many people are developing microtears in their intestines and think that GMO’s are the culprit. I STRONGLY encourage you to research about all of this information, maybe you’ll understand why the company that made Agent Orange chemicals shouldn’t be making our food!

          • michael renn

            where do you get the clearest info on what products are GMO free or aren’t. I’ve gone Organic. and I hope that all USDA organic certified really is 100% G.M.O. free.

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    Nice post!

  • Utopia

    I don’t know where I fall regarding GMO. I have a tendency to want to avoid it. The bottom line, however your stance, what harm is there and having product labeling. I want to know what I’m buying an interesting, don’t you?

    • Utopia

      *ingesting

  • Tom

    I’m a little disappointed in Fooducate’s interview with Barbara’s rep. A little homework would reveal that the Non-GMO Project Verified seal does not guarantee that the final product is free of GMOs. It only means that the company is trying it’s best to avoid GMOs. There is also no USDA Organic Seal so the ingredients Barbara uses is probably full of synthetic pesticides.

  • Missy Bissell

    I enjoy Barbara’s shredded wheat. It’s good to know there are no GMOs in the cereal. Go Barbara’s!!!!