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Shaklee and GMO's
Shaklee’s Position on Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Food Ingredients
Consumers are increasingly asking about GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) or Genetically Engineered ingredients.* There has been increasing use of novel genetic modification techniques on foods and food-based ingredients since the mid-1990s. The general consensus among the scientific community, as well as the official positions of relevant federal regulatory agencies, is that genetically engineered food ingredients are safe. Although we are aware of the arguments for the safety of GM food ingredients, Shaklee’s position is that changes to food production that are radically different from historical practice may have the potential to do harm to the environment and/or to human health, and therefore should be introduced with caution and have ongoing scrutiny regarding potential unexpected results.
We review all our ingredients with the aim of adhering to our goal of sourcing only safe & sustainable ingredients.
Shaklee has a long history of environmental stewardship. In 2000, Shaklee became the first corporation on the planet to be certified carbon neutral; we had no path to follow, and the process took time to define and complete. Non-GMO ingredients today are where “carbon neutral” was in the 1990s. There is no widely agreed definition or certification program (see footnote). In keeping with our philosophy, we have taken steps to secure non-GMO ingredients. For example, two of our high tonnage ingredients which are typically genetically modified in the U.S. are soy protein and alfalfa. (About 90% of soybeans grown in the U.S. and in Brazil are genetically modified.) Shaklee has been able to secure IPP (Identity Preserved Program), non-GMO soy protein, as well as non-GMO alfalfa, to fully satisfy our requirements. For some other key ingredients, such as muscadine grapes and traditionally used medicinal herbs (for example, aswagandha, banaba, echinacea, elderberry, garlic, ginseng, green tea, milk thistle, peppermint, polygonum, psyllium, rosemary, saw palmetto, senna, spearmint, St. John’s Wort, valerian, and the four herbs extracted for NutriFeron), genetically modified varieties have never been commercialized. The pre-biotics we use are non-GMO, as are the plant sterols and stanols and all minerals. Fish oil is non-GMO. For many minor ingredients used by Shaklee, no certified non-GMO source currently exists, or production is very limited, or, as noted below, how GMO is defined may impact classification. We are working with our suppliers to source certified non-GMO ingredients as sources become commercially viable. In order of priority, we are focused first on the crops, then on ingredients that may be derived from GMO crops (the glycerin in Vivix, for example, which could be derived from GMO corn but in fact is non-GMO), and finally on minor (less than 0.5%) components.
Shaklee supports the ongoing research being undertaken across the globe to further define and understand both the potential positive and negative effects of GMOs. Shaklee is fully committed to provide you and your customers with the very safest and most efficacious products possible, as we have done since 1956.
*What is GMO? There is no universally accepted definition of GMO or Genetically Engineered ingredients. Humans have been genetically modifying plants and animals for millennia by conventional (selective) breeding; most commercial plants (and food animals) today bear limited resemblance to what existed in nature centuries ago. In the 1980’s new techniques to insert genes (DNA) from one species into another were developed, and this led to commercial development, starting in the 1990’s, of what are termed genetically modified organisms. Early examples included a tomato with a longer shelf life, corn that made its own pesticide, soy that was resistant to herbicide, and “golden” rice that produced vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. Genetic modification was also applied to microbes, which were used to produce vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and other minor food ingredients. Some definitions of GMO food consider only the food material which might contain the altered DNA or the protein that DNA produces; other definitions also include any food product made by processing a GMO. For example, there would be universal agreement that flour made from GM soy or corn is GM, but corn starch and soybean oil, which would contain little or no DNA or protein, are not considered GM by some definitions. Likewise, there is no agreement as to how to classify food ingredients made by GM microbes. Furthermore, some definitions of GMO include animal products when the animal in question has consumed grain or other food that was GM, although no one to date has been able to show that such animal products are distinguishable from the same products derived from non-GM-fed animals.