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More companies voluntarily phasing out GMOs in response to growing consumer demand

Thursday, February 13, 2014 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: GMOs, consumer demand, voluntary phaseout

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(NaturalNews) Demand for genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or synthetically derived "food" owned by multinational corporations, is on the decline, suggests a new report by NPR. And many U.S. farmers are now voluntarily switching to non-GMO and organic crops to meet this growing demand for clean food, despite the fact that mandatory GMO labeling has yet to become a reality anywhere in North America.

Much of this demand comes from Asian countries like Japan, admits Illinois-based grain processor Lynn Clarkson, where GMOs are much more scrutinized at the regulatory levels, and the public is generally more wary about the long-term safety of GMOs. But demand is shifting here in the U.S. as well, where an increasing number of food processors and manufacturers are responding to growing public demand for more unmodified, chemical-free food options.

For Clarkson, this meant transforming his Clarkson Grain processing plant, which sits amidst thousands of acres of transgenic corn and soybeans in the central Illinois town of Cerro Gordo, to only GMO-free grains. But this was not exactly a difficult feat, as Clarkson's innovations with regard to supplying American food companies with consistent product naturally paved the way for a longstanding non-GMO-grain-trading relationship with Asia.

"We don't tell people what their values should be," explained Clarkson to NPR, noting that it was food companies themselves, and ultimately their customers, that inspired what would later become a non-GMO tradition. "We inquire, and then we do our best to support those values."

Foreign food companies don't want GMOs, and neither do conscious consumers

Having worked in the grain business for 40 years, Clarkson witnessed the emergence of GMOs during the peak of his career some 20 years ago. Many farmers switched to the technology, which some say was more the result of coercion, but Clarkson's customers were simply not buying it.

According to NPR, Clarkson had already successfully built a strong rapport with his Asian clients around the time that GMOs emerged. Since none of them wanted these transgenic fabrications, he in turn was able to establish one of the first non-GMO supply chains right in the midst of America's agricultural heartland.

"U.S. buyers often think that we're starting from scratch," he contends, referring to his plant's loyal dedication to processing only non-GMO grains. "Well, we're not. We're starting from millions of bushels of demand that are in place and being satisfied on a regular basis for Asian clients."

Farmers do not even want to grow GMOs

Having all the pieces already in place, though, has made the transition to non-GMO a lot simpler for Americans, as the logistics behind the growing and shipping of non-GMO grains to Asia -- many non-GMO farms in the Midwest are located along river routes that easily connect shipping vessels to the ocean -- have already been previously established.

Adding to the conversation are some previous and even current GMO farmers, who are more than happy to escape the clutches of the biotechnology industry by meeting new demand for non-GMO crops. In many cases, farmers were unduly pressured by the likes of Monsanto to switch to GMO crops, a decades-long campaign that has resulted in some 90 percent of the corn, soy and cotton grown in the U.S. being converted to GMO.

"[N]one of us want the crops," explains one NPR commenter and farmer, noting that Monsanto and others in the industry successfully introduced GMOs by initially intimidating farmers alongside its legal team. "Monsanto wants the crops and the herbicide sales, and that's the only reason it's there."

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