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How Ben & Jerry's Says Goodbye to GMOs

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page, Vermont News page and our Myth of Natural page.

ST. ALBANS - A Ben & Jerry's factory worker feeds chunks of chocolate-covered toffee into an augur, which funnels them into a stream of coffee-flavored ice cream. The newly blended confection is then dolloped into pint containers labeled "Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch."

What's rolling off the production line in St. Albans is an old flavor with a new name and new ingredients as the iconic ice-cream maker transforms all of its 50 flavors to non-genetically modified ingredients and Fair Trade certification.

"It's no longer Heath bar," notes Ben & Jerry's spokeswoman Kelly Mohr of the coffee crunch motoring through the automated assembly line in front of her.   

The Heath Toffee Bar that was once a central ingredient of the popular "Coffee Heath Bar Crunch" had to go. To meet the non-GMO and Fair Trade standards, Ben & Jerry's had to find new sources for some 110 ingredients that go into the chunky, funky flavors, no small change for a company that throws "Everything but the " into its ice cream.

"We felt like this was something Ben & Jerry's ought to be a leader on," said Chris Miller, Ben & Jerry's social mission activism manager.        

As Vermont's new law requiring labeling of food containing genetically modified organisms shows, interest in GMOs, or the lack of them, is hot. A growing number of image-conscious companies, including Burlington-based Lake Champlain Chocolates, are looking to go non-GMO.

Genetically modified organisms are plants or animals whose makeup has been altered to produce a new combination of genes and traits that nature is unable to produce. The process is commonly used in corn, soybeans and cotton to make them resistant to herbicides or cause them to produce pesticides. Some people fear GMOs pose a danger to humans and the environment while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration maintains genetically modified products are materially no different.   


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