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Eden Foods Creates a Sustainable System for Organic, GEO Free Corn
6 March 2002
Clinton, Michigan - Eden Foods, together with their business associates, has successfully completed a three year project to secure a permanent supply of organic corn that is free of genetically engineered organisms (GEOs). This closed system is based upon our already functioning, and highly successful similar project to protect thousands of acres of soybeans from genetic and chemical pollution, from seed stock to field, through transportation and production.
It became apparent to Eden that most of North America's corn would be genetically polluted in a few years unless vigorous action was taken. As corn pollen travels much farther than soy's, there was grave doubt about our ability to be successful in protecting a supply of corn. If we could we still had to protect it from contamination during storage, transportation, and milling.
The few corporations that control the majority of North America's corn have invested millions of dollars and stand to gain billions from a proliferation of unlabeled, untested genetically engineered food. In 2001, Washington D.C. biotech industry consultant Don Westfall said, "The hope of the industry is that over time the market is so flooded [with genetically engineered organisms] that there's nothing you can do about it, you just sort of surrender." Yet, Eden's customers, employees, and business partners have not chosen to 'surrender' to genetic contamination of our food supplies.
Eden's customers made it exceedingly clear that securing a sustainable supply of organic and GEO free corn was an urgent necessity. Eden's management agreed and acted vigorously, as corn is an essential ingredient in EDENSOY® which together with barley is malted to produce this soymilk's gentle, unrefined, natural malt sweetener.
In early 1999, Eden Foods and their joint venture company that makes EDENSOY (American Soy Products) drafted a plan to protect our corn from genetic pollution and to create a sustainable supply of it. With the cooperation of our seed supplier, our organic growers, Briess Industries (our malter), and Didion Milling, the corn used in EDENSOY's sweetener, about a quarter million bushels per year, will be coming through this new organic closed supply chain as of the first of (1) May 2002.
"We are exceedingly grateful that everyone involved, from corn seed to malt, has precisely the same goal: Keeping it organic and GEO free," says Eden Chairman and President, Michael Potter. "It is an honor to work on this project with the four companies and growers focused on a mutual goal, creating a system for producing organic corn that is not genetically polluted."
Many people believed that a GEO free corn supply could no longer be created. Eden has succeeded by drawing upon previous successes. In 1976 when the company drafted the first American standards for 'field to shelf' organic food production, fundamental to those standards was the audit trail, documentation from seed to final product through every step of handling and processing to demonstrate that a food is certified organic. When Monsanto introduced 'Roundup Ready' soybeans in 1995, Eden realized that a parallel trail of documentation would be necessary to demonstrate a food is GEO free.
In 1997 Eden and American Soy Products began implementing protocols that had become necessary to ensure that our soybeans remained free of genetic contamination. Fully functioning in 1999 this system is modeled after and synchronized with the organic audit trail and relies upon testing at several different steps in growing, handling, and processing. The system established for GEO free corn is similar to the one that's in place for Eden's GEO free soybeans, with added measures of control to address corn's higher contamination risk.
Briess Industries of Chilton, Wisconsin had already become a certified organic malt producer for Eden in 1990. They have helped facilitate this corn project by installing a new organic corn cooker, and then reinforcing their testing procedures to ensure a GEO free product.
The next essential step was finding a corn miller that was willing and qualified to provide a high quality, organic, GEO free brewer's corn grit. In September 2000 Didion Milling of Cambria, Wisconsin agreed to become our supplier of organic corn grits, committing to strengthening and establishing protocols never before used in the milling industry.
"What separates us from other food ingredient suppliers is our ability to source, grow, process, and deliver the best identity preserved (IP), non GE, and organic corn ingredients," says Didion Milling Chairman, John Didion. "The difference literally begins at the soil level with our grower partners."
Eden corn is organically grown by approximately one hundred family owned farms located around central southern Wisconsin. Growing any crop organically involves dedication and more intense involvement. With the added variable of genetic drift, this is accentuated for organic corn. All of the companies involved work with the growers to ensure success. Growers follow strict IP management protocols including use of dedicated non GE seed stock, buffer zones, identification of neighboring crops, separate certified storage and delivery bins, and thorough documentation (audit trails).
The system for GEO free corn is necessarily complex and has been built 'on top' of the highest standard protocols for organic production and processing, and our AIB certified food safety and sanitation HACCPs. Some of the added measures are:
- An annual growers meeting is held in January to address new issues, concerns, and the signing of contracts for the coming season.
- Only specially procured IP certified, third party polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tested non GE, untreated seed corn is planted.
- Eden and Didion Milling visit with growers in their fields during the growing season.
- Neighboring crops are monitored and steps taken where necessary to reduce the risk of contamination from genetic (GE) drift.
- Sample ears of corn are taken from each field and strip tested (a field method that uses the same technology as a home pregnancy test).
- After combining, harvested samples are sent to Didion where they are strip tested again 'pre purchase' and again at delivery. Acceptable corn is shipped in certified organic designated trailers and received at the mill's designated dump pit after which it is conditioned (dried and cleaned) and stored in designated certified organic bins.
- Samples are pulled every hour during processing from the millstream when it is being milled into grits. These samples are composite strip tested at the end of each shift. Finished grits are tested from each shipping load before moving on to Briess Industries.
- Briess performs its own strip tests on each load of grits prior to receiving, and sends samples out once a month for PCR testing.
- American Soy Products sends samples of incoming malted grain (containing corn and barley) to an independent lab for PCR testing four times per year.
- Random samples of EDENSOY are tested periodically.
"This system to prevent GE contamination of our organic corn is another example of Eden and our business partners doing everything in our power to protect the integrity of food and abide by the wishes of our customers," explains Mr. Potter. "At the same time we are protecting a crucial part of a safe and biodiverse food supply for future generations."
EDEN means no irradiation, no preservatives, no chemical additives,
no food colorings, no refined sugars, no genetically engineered ingredients;
just the safest, most nutritious, certified organically grown food that
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