Hershey Just Broke Up With GMO Sugar Beets

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By Heather Callaghan

Corporate demand largely fueled the proliferation of genetically modified  and glyphosate-resistant sugar beets as a cheap source for sweeteners in candy, chocolates and beverages. Imagine getting a farming contract from a corporation as big as Hershey, for instance. Farmers could get back to work if they filled that demand for the white beets and hopped aboard the GMO train. Consumer apathy and demand for chocolate blissfully fueled the arrangement for a time.

However, as consumers now walk away from GMOs, so must Big Chocolate.

Enter: a huge step for candy-kind.

Star Tribune reports:

Something was different about a lot of the Hershey’s kisses in your stocking this year: The popular chocolates no longer contain sugar made in Minnesota.

For decades, the Hershey Co. has used sugar made from both sugar beets and sugar cane, but it decided earlier this year to stop buying beet sugar because it comes from genetically modified, or GM, seeds that some consumers don’t like.

Hershey, with 2014 sales of $7.4 billion and more than 80 brands of candy sold around the world, was a huge customer for beet sugar farmers, and its decision was significant enough to be noted earlier this month at two annual shareholder meetings of sugar beet cooperatives.

This year was a record harvest year for sugar beets – but what will happen now as the multi-billion dollar corp has left the arena? The media – practically for the first time – is actually concerned about the economics of farmers (and as usual is supporting Monsanto’s oft-repeated claims of safety).

When did GMO sugar beets crash the U.S.?

According to Non-GMO Report:

The USDA “de-regulated” Roundup Ready sugar beets in 2005. The agency had originally de-regulated RR sugar beets in 1999, but candy manufacturers refused to use sugar from GM plants due to consumer concerns, and the beets never took off.

Ten years later and we seem to be back in the realm of a cautious 1999. But, as usual, Hershey like most big food companies and the media is not questioning the safety of GMOs or distancing themselves. Rather, they are being “responsive” to the changing winds. Labels will still say “sugar” either way. Last year, General Mills announced that it was dropping GM sugar and Campbell’s is heading in the non-GMO direction.

Sugar beets currently fuel over half of the U.S. sugar supply and nearly 100 percent of those beets seeds are engineered to tolerate massive amounts of glyphosate pesticides.

As for Hershey, the communications director said:

More than three-quarters of the sugar we are using today is cane sugar – and as we get into 2016, our expectation is to be at or near 100 percent.

“If it hadn’t been for those pesky anti-GMers…”

It is interesting to note that instead of honoring consumer demand – that the CEOs of big sugar companies and farming co-ops refer to the so-called “anti-GM movement” as a thorn in their side and their biggest “challenge.” In other words, they would rather trick consumers with a lack of transparency and untested GE food. They would spend time, money and energy on campaigns against those pesky anti-GMer “claims.” Yet any claims on GMO safety on the part of biotech companies remains unproven and the burden of proof is on them, not on consumers who have legitimate health concerns about what they give their children to consume.

But there has been a GMO test. Doctors partnered with Jefferey Smith’s Responsible Technology site have put their patients on strict non-GMO diets only to find them “miraculously” recovering from conditions that are considered irreversible. Another form of evidence is when a lab autopsy shows that deformed dead or stillborn piglets were saturated in glyphosate. Or that two weeks on organic food can eliminate all pesticides from an entire family. Some would call that anecdotal and some would call that evidence.

Consumers aren’t the ones with claims – they simply question the wild claims of a mammoth corporation and wish for responsible technology. I applaud Hershey’s move to listen to consumers and I applaud the parents who stopped feeding glyphosate and engineered organisms to their children.

Creative Commons LicenseHershey Just Broke Up With GMO Sugar Beets by Heather Callaghan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Natural Blaze thanks you for republishing our work with this message intact or providing a source-link for quotes.

Heather Callaghan is an independent researcher, natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com. Like at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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  • clarioncaller

    Now all Hershey has to do is end the slave labor that they employ in the western African cocoa trade to be considered an ethical company.

  • Abe

    They can take the beet sugar out of the candy, but they didn’t say they’d take the glyophosate out of the cane.
    Sugar cane farmers use Glyohosate as a dessicant, which means they spray round up on sugar cane to get it all to ripen at the same time. This could be nothing more than a slight of hand move by Hershey’s.
    Halloween I give out organic apples, and tell the parents with there kids about GMO’s and Glyphosate! I’ve been doing that for 6 years now. The parents are learning!!
    BTW a lot of kids get sick during sugar beet planting in the Red River Valley from all the sprays used during planting.

  • Kānāwai Māmalahoe

    Honey is the only good sweetener. Cane is way better way than GMO beet which is all roundup ready and also beets pull up soil contaminants more than most plants. Not all cane is sprayed.

  • SageThinker

    Much cane does have glyphosate though, sprayed as crop finisher, so unless it’s organic cane sugar it’s not guaranteed to be glyphosate-free.

  • Me Who

    What do you think of Stevia type sweetners and Agave Nectar?

  • Kānāwai Māmalahoe

    My first response had a lot of links so pending modernization, here is an edited version without the links.

    I heard the largest grower of Stevia talk about GMOs with the same exact talking points as some of the trolls on this article, he sold out to Coke.

    A small army of GMO beet producers have been admitting to spamming social media with roundup sugar beet propaganda. I have seen studies that agave is not good for most people but the patron tequila founder grows a lot in Kona. I grow some but don’t eat it.

    Orgacic cane molasses is the next best thing to raw honey from well managed honey bees…and hate to say it but despite the positive impact on plants, cane molasses is still a distant second to raw, local, organic honey. I do PCR tests on my honey to avoid consuming honey form GMO pollen and nectar flows.

    Local honey has major benefits to human and environmental health. It is the best for surgery recovery. Matthew 3:4 And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

    A Mother Earth magazine article from November had a great piece on homemade sweeteners. This industry has had a huge impact on my family and all of Hawaii.

    A major change is coming…diversived agriculture at Hawaii’s last plantation. Leaving sugar will be better for us and Maui but the growing pains are a cause for some apprehension.

    Maui is going to need as many organic farmers as we ge get. Land leases will be from 6 to 100 bucks per acre, per year. USDA ownership and conversation/farming easements may also be an option…so land is not hard barrier to overcome. The internet now puts knowledge that used to be only passed thru generations at everyone’s fingertips. Calling all organic farmers!

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