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New Hope Responds to Criticism of GMO 2.0 Companies at Natural Products Expo West

Tradeshow organizer defends presence of companies with unnatural GMO-derived products, saying they want natural products community to choose for themselves the products that make sense for their customers.

New Hope Network was recently criticized for allowing synthetic biology or “GMO 2.0” companies to promote their products at Natural Products Expo West, held this past March in Anaheim, California.

Brave Robot promoted its ice cream made from Perfect Day’s synbio proteins. Motif FoodWorks offered samples of its GMO-derived “Hemami” meat alternative. Other synbio company exhibitors were Pipette sunscreens and personal care products, Betterland Foods’ milk product also made with Perfect Day’s synbio animal-free whey protein, and Remilk dairy products, among others. There were an estimated 10 GMO 2.0 companies exhibiting at Expo West.

Patrick Sheridan, president and CEO of the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association (INFRA), says the consensus among his group’s member retailers—a key target market of Expo West—was that synbio companies don’t belong at a natural food show.

“We’re trying to curb the expansion of GMOs in our food system but food start-ups are getting into Expo using smart marketing campaigns that aren’t transparent.”

Encourage robust debate”

New Hope’s director of market integrity Shelley Sapsin says retailer concerns “matter very much to us” and that “asking hard questions about GMO-derived ingredients is appropriate.” But she also says that New Hope provides a forum to discuss topics like “precision fermentation” and”‘GMO 2.0.”