GMO Labeling – Frequently Asked Questions
At King Arthur Flour, we believe in transparency. Part of being a certified B Corp means being open about our business practices, and we believe you should have as much information about the ingredients in our products as we do.
Our Sourced Non-GMO labeling program was created to clearly identify the many King Arthur Flour products made without genetically modified (GM) ingredients. Learn more about the program here.
- What are GMOs?
Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are organisms whose genetic makeup was not created through traditional cross-breeding methods (hybridization) or naturally in the wild. This manipulation of DNA is known as genetic engineering, so GMO foods are often called "genetically engineered." Made by splicing genes from one species into the DNA of another species in a laboratory, these combinations of animal, plant, bacterial and viral genes create new organisms with desired traits, such as resistance to certain herbicides, insect pests, or disease. Genetically modified plants are often engineered to improve crop yield or add nutritional benefits like increased vitamin content.
GMOs are found extensively in major crops grown in the United States, like corn, soy and sugar beets. GMOs have been introduced in canola, alfalfa, cotton, papaya, and more recently in potatoes, zucchini, and summer squash.
- How about wheat hybridization? Isn't today's wheat genetically modified?
Very few crops have been subject to the type of genetic engineering known as GMO. However, virtually all plants have evolved naturally or have been cross-bred within the same species to yield new varieties.
The wheat we harvest and consume today is the result of many years of traditional selective breeding by farmers and scientists. Traditional selective breeding creates new hybrids by combining two wheat plants with desirable traits. Humans facilitate this hybridization now, but cross-pollination is a natural process that has been occurring for nearly 10,000 years.
Some of the desirable traits that are selectively bred in wheat include better drought tolerance, fuller seed heads, better baking quality, and shorter stalks. Continuing hybridization has led to wheat varieties that use fewer resources (fertilizer, water, fuel) and yield more wheat per acre.
- GMO – yes or no?
All King Arthur flours are non-GMO. King Arthur Flour is milled from wheat sourced exclusively from the USA; GMO wheat is not approved for commercial production or sale in the United States and North America.
- What do you mean when you say "sourced non-GMO"?
A "sourced non-GMO" product signifies that all of its ingredients—the flour, the sugar, the oils, etc.—are made from plants that started as non-GMO seed. These varieties contain only genetic material from their original species. We have created a Sourced Non-GMO program based on the strict non-GMO standards of the European Union that trace and verify the origins of our ingredients all the way through the food chain.
- Are all of your products non-GMO?
No. In certain cases we're unable to buy a high-quality ingredient that is reliably available in sufficient quantity.
Examples of these products include:
- Chocolate chips made from non-GMO Cocoa beans, but may contain small amounts (as low as .05%) of soy lecithin from genetically modified soybeans.
- Dried fruit, which itself is non-GMO, but is often coated with a small amount of oil from genetically modified sources to keep it soft.
- Do you support GMO labeling?
We believe consumers have a right to know what ingredients are in the foods they purchase. That is why we launched our Sourced Non-GMO program.
- Why doesn't your label read "GMO-free"?
Non-GMO crops are transported and handled by the same equipment that moves GMO crops. This can sometimes lead to minute amounts of cross contamination. It is virtually impossible to eliminate all risks of cross contamination in our food system. No third-party verification system can ever eliminate completely the unintentional cross-contamination of GMO products into non-GMO supplies.
- What is your position on GMOs?
GMOs are controversial for a number of reasons. Above all, we believe that people have a right to know what's in their food: That's why we launched our Sourced Non-GMO program.
We understand the concern around the risk of unknown consequences from GMO foods. Though GMOs have been widely used in human food for more than 20 years; that's only a small moment in Earth's history. We simply do not yet know the long-term consequences of genetic engineering. We also recognize the fear that GMO technology is controlled by a very small handful of companies, potentially leading to a monopolization of our food supply.
On the other hand, some believe that GMOs offer the potential for increasing agricultural output while at the same time reducing the number of inputs (chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides). As the global population grows, GMOs could be a way to produce enough food to feed everyone reliably. They also could enhance the nutritional content of common foods (for example: adding beta-carotene to "golden rice," increasing Vitamin A in the diets of people who consume it).