Is there a benefit to GMO-free milk?

Consumers have plenty of options in the dairy aisle, whether it is whole milk, one percent, buttermilk, organic, lactose-free, soy, almond or coconut.

However, a Manitoba dairy farmer says Canadians need one more alternative: non-genetically modified milk.

“We’re just seeing a demand coming, and there are (Manitoba) processors that have been echoing the same comments,” said Hans Gorter, who farms near Otterburne.

“They have customers asking, ‘is there any non-GMO milk or cheese?’ ”

Gorter and his son, Albert, introduced a resolution at the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba meeting in Winnipeg in early December that asked the board to work with dairy processors to “make the (non-GM) market opportunity a reality for Manitoba registered producers.”

Non-GM milk would come from Holstein and Jersey cattle fed a ration of non-GM grain and oilseeds.

The resolution passed easily.

Gorter said pursuing this market niche makes sense, given that Canada’s free trade deals with Europe and the Trans-Pacific Partnership will soon give many countries access to Canadian dairy consumers.

“We’re not arguing whether it (GM free) is better or worse,” Gorter said.

“But if we can’t supply that milk to them, it will never be a Manitoban or Canadian product…. There are two processors, or three processors in Manitoba, that have been talking about it (non-GM milk).”

A producer at the Winnipeg meeting said Manitoba farmers already produce organic milk, which is non-GM. Therefore, another product category is unnecessary.

Dave Eto, chief executive officer of the British Columbia, Dairy Association, supports that argument.

“This is a further segmentation of something that is already happening.”

Eto said it’s possible a small processor in his province may produce non-GM milk and cheese because it is a “hot bed” for anti-GMO sentiment.

“We’ve had a number of municipalities that have been pushing for non-GMO designations,” he said.

“(But) I’m not aware of (a) non-GMO labeled dairy product.”

Eto said putting a non-GM label on a milk carton is more complicated than “slapping on stickers.”

“You are required, as a processor, to follow the laws of how you can label products,” he said.

“There potentially could be some claims issues … the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has to consider before they’ll allow someone to make those types of claims.”

Gorter hasn’t decided if he will switch to non-GM feed, but he said it would be possible to do because of the availability of non-GM corn, soybeans and canola in Manitoba.

“I know a canola crusher in Ste. Agathe … when I presented my canola last year in December, they were shut down for non-GMO canola and I couldn’t bring my canola in.”

Dairy producers would have to go through a one year milk cycle feeding a non-GM ration to qualify as non-GM.

It means GM-free milk wouldn’t be on store shelves until 2017 if Manitoba dairy farmers and processors were to immediately pursue the niche market.

“I know there are (dairy) producers out there that will start feeding non-GMO corn and beans, as soon as Jan. 1, 2016,” Gorter said.

Organic milk statistics in BC:

British Columbia is a major market for organic food, but organic milk, cheese and yogurt represents a tiny slice of the total dairy production in the province.

B.C. dairy farmers produced 61.2 million litres of milk in October.

•    Of that, 2.3 million litres were organic.

•    Organic market share for October was 3.76 percent.

A spokesperson for the B.C. Milk Marketing Board said the annual percentage is slightly higher and probably close to four percent.

Source: staff research

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

About the author

Comments

  • Amelia Jordan

    SMH, all dairy milk is non-GMO, so if there’s going to be a label, at least be specific and state that the milk is from cows not fed on GMO feed. That is an accurate label.

    • Rob Bright

      And not injected with rbgh…

      • RobertWager

        That is not permitted in Canada.

        • ed

          Monsanto did offer the CFIA scientists a million dollars each to let RBGH into Canada, but they stood up to them, turned down the capitalist offer, and good sense and good health for Canadians prevailed. It may eventually prevail on other issues as well. Labeling is a good start. GMO Free labels for milk will be a good start down a more transparent road for consumers. Farming and farmers success is like a good band. Work hard, set a good example, and remember that it is all about the fans. The setup crew as the Monsanto’s or input partners, although somewhat important, are not the ones paying the bills. The consumers are farmers fans and are #1 for sure, and need respect. That is something that the agricultural industry does not give them now. With the rowdies trying to steal the farmers thunder, the fans are getting treated poorly. That needs to change. Labeling GMO, ya or nay, is a good start.

          • hyperzombie

            There are no GMO cows so how can there be GMO free Dairy milk, when there is no GMO dairy milk. Misleading customers will not make them healthier. Just buy Organic milk if you dont want the cows to be fed GMOs.

          • ed

            Is there such a thing as an Organic Dairy? Is Organic milk GMO free? What are you saying exactly. Some are suggesting that GMO should be allowed in Organics. Then would we need GMO Organic and labeled GMO free Organic?

          • hyperzombie

            what I am trying to say is all milk is GMO free. There are no GMO cows, to make GMO milk. If you had a teenager and fed them a pack of Doritos, would the teenager now be a GMO human? If the teenager got pregnant and ate a pack of doritos, would the child be drinking GMO breast milk?

          • ed

            If you had a teenager and feed them listeria infected chicken, would they be listeria free or no. Let’s put that to a vote.

          • hyperzombie

            Is listeria a type of food?

          • ed

            Is organic food organic no matter what is in it.

          • hyperzombie

            Organic is a marketing term, and Organic food can contain whatever the Organic industry says it can contain. They write their own rules for the industry.

          • ed

            Do you think that if they, (the organic industry) in order to circumvent having to jump through the multitude of hoops that the industrial complex agricultural lobby has convinced government agencies would makes perfect sense to allow their direct competitor organic producers certification, decided to dull down their organic definition to, “May contain up to 50% and not more of allowable steroids, antibiotics, hormones or chemistry s as our competitive non organic products”, that no one would have anything to say about it. I think not! The organic industry is by no means writing the rules for their industry. The rules are all dictated by one side of this equation. Surely you aware of that.

          • hyperzombie

            “industrial complex agricultural lobby “

            What?? The organic industry is part of the industrial agricultural lobby…

            “”May contain up to 50% and not more of allowable steroids, antibiotics, hormones or chemistry s as our competitive non organic products””

            Yep, they could. And antibiotics are allowed in Organic production, hormones are in all living things and 45% of organic foods test positive for banned pesticides, yet the organic certifying bodies never do any field testing. Strange right?

            “The organic industry is by no means writing the rules for their industry.”

            Funny, the organic rules are written by the NOSB (national organic standards board) by people in the Organic industry.

          • ed

            So the organic industry can put non-GMO labels on anything they want then when ever they choose, because I wasn’t clear on that till now. Do market gardens and farmers selling off the tail gates of their trucks have these same rights as well?

          • ed

            Human breast milk still has banned chemistry in it due to a compromised environment, but it was not the organic food production system that caused that. The modern ag. model has to stop treating the food system as being so far gone that you can’t fix it, so let’s make some money on the down hill skid at least. Consumers are balking that attitude, so they better get with the program. Labeling is coming, but it appears you agree that so far the organic industry under current law or threat of law suits can not place GMO free on their products.

          • Harold

            The ethanol you speak of is not produced by the plant itself but owed to adding sugar and yeast, and to the fermentation thereof. This is hardly a comparison to a human drinking a fermented alcoholic beverage. “Is all milk liquor free?” Not when liquor is consumed. Is milk GMO free? Not when GMO products are consumed. You are looking at the GMO label but not the gene nor the process or the by-product of the plant. Are breasts not becoming cancerous at alarming rates? There is not one thing that you can eat, touch or breathe, that does not effect your health. Everyone has the basic tools to research these matters by their own due diligence. Where can I find your evidence that supports “all milk is GMO free.” It seems that your argument is; that only when a person/cow turns into a GMO product when eating such, then we should sit up and notice. Is that where your bar is set? When a river can be set on fire; that’s when we’ve polluted it? I am not proving anything to anyone and I am not the issue; the information is. Anyone can research these matters and are fully invited to do so. …

          • Harold

            It is well known that certain pharmaceutical and other products cannot be taken during pregnancy or while beast feeding. Why? because they are transferred to the fetus or though the milk into the baby. Liquor is one of those substances. Is all milk liquor free? Is there a Liquor bottle human because they drink booze? Is there no intoxicated human? There are no liquor bottle humans to make liquor contaminated milk. Makes perfect sense to me. Perhaps you can answer your own question.

          • hyperzombie

            ” Is all milk liquor free?”

            Well sort of, almost all of dairy feed contains about 0.5%-3% ethanol. So almost all dairy cattle are fed booze, but it doesn’t get into the milk.
            PS all adult living animals contain ethanol (liquor), it is a byproduct of being alive.

        • Harold

          What is your resistance to proper labeling. There is a demand for changes due to a growing mistrust of the manufactures of food. If the call is for milk from a non-toxic cow, where do you fit into this. In other words, If I will pay and get milk from a cow that has never been exposed to GMO, needles and such; does your milk supply diminish? If I want unpasteurized milk; does your supply vanish? Ever consider what happens when we feed our milk supply back to the Calf after its pasteurized? (mothers are warned not to take certain products while breast feeding; why?) Some of us remember Monsanto as being the one responsible for PCB’s-1920, polystyrene-1941, DDT, agent orange, Dioxin, Bovine growth hormone, Saccharin-1970, aspartame (nutra-sweet/ Equal, Manhattan project, and sterile grains-1990 etc. Only a few know that Monsanto is to appear before the international Court in 2016 to face charges of crimes against humanity. Our food has Monsanto GE and chemical finger prints all over it. “there are three kinds of lies. Lies, damned Lies and statistics.” Mark Twain.

          • hyperzombie

            “If the call is for milk from a non-toxic cow,”

            What is a toxic cow?

      • ed

        Yes

      • hyperzombie

        It is not used in Canada.

  • RobertWager

    As far as I can determine Non-GMO milk labels are illegal as there is no such thing as GMO milk or cheese. According to labeling regulations if a single ingredient food does not have a GM variety available, non-GMO options for labeling are not allowed as they infer there is a GM option on the market.

    • ed

      Like non GMO Cheerios.

      • RobertWager

        Cheerios is a multi-ingredient food, milk or cheese is not.

        • ed

          Not many would agree on that.

      • hyperzombie

        The O in cheerios stands for Oats, there are no GMO oats.

        • ed

          Yes, you have nailed that one, and they are very careful as to not feed any GMO into them in the entire rest of the process to maintain their GMO free status.

    • Robert Howd

      Fermentation-produced chymosin is allowed in Canada, as I understand it, except in cheese labelled organic. Since this is derived from genetically engineered E. coli, surely there is no dispute that this is a GMO dairy product.

      • hyperzombie

        Nope, Cheese made with GMO rennet is not a GMO product. The bacteria that make the rennet are GMO, but not the rennet.

        • RobertWager

          For Robert Howd

          So if that is your line then all vitamin supplements are GMO’s? Virtually all food with vitamin enhancements are GMO’s?

    • hyperzombie

      Plus there are no GMO cows.

    • Rob Wallbridge

      I’d be interested in more details on these labeling regulations, Robert. It seems to me that the non-GMO Project labels several single-ingredient foods for which there is no GM option on the market (tomatoes and peppers come immediately to mind).

  • richard

    Yet again the market speaks, the producers listen…..and the reactionaries fulminate…..Ya gotta like free enterprise!!!

  • Robert Howd

    Isn’t Canadian cheese made with the GMO rennet equivalent? How good is the supply of traditional rennet made from calves’ stomach linings?

  • TZ

    There are two main GE crops—One is BT toxin which is an unnatural synthetic form of a naturally occurring soil bacteria which is far more toxic than its natural counterpart, this unnatural bacterium has been genetically engineered into the seed, so this toxin is then expressed in every cell of the plant, it cannot be washed off nor will it degrade in sunlight like its natural counterpart, another fun FACT is our corn then becomes a registered pesticide with the EPA…yummy….then there are Roundup Ready crops that have been genetically engineered to withstand heavy doses of Roundup without dying, so mothers get to feed their babies Glyphosate ridden breast milk which the WHO (World Health Organization) deemed as a probable carcinogen and the rest of us get to process it though our kidneys and out in our urine…..Not to mention the active retro virus called the cauliflower mosaic virus that is used to turn the desired trait on and then the antibiotic marker used to ascertain if the desired trait is being expressed… antibiotic resistance anyone? They also stack these traits together in one crop! The process of creating a GM plant causes massive collateral damage in the DNA….approximately 2 to 4 percent of the DNA is mutated/different compared to its parent. This can result in increased or new allergens, toxins, carcinogens and anti nutrients! There were never any independent, long-term, minimum of 3 mammalian species, preferably multi-generational studies done to deduce toxicology in human beings concerning the consumption of GMOs…. it’s criminal that they were allowed into our food supply….PERIOD!

    These are the genetically engineered crops to avoid…buy organic or Non GMO project verified until we can obtain proper labeling and transparency…..corn, soy, canola, cottonseed, zucchini, crooked neck squash, papaya, alfalfa, potatoes, apples plus some wheat and rice have contamination…over 80 percent of the food found on grocery store shelves contain at least one of these crop ingredients in there processed product …such as HFCS, modified corn starch, hydrolyzed yeast protein, MSG, soy lethicin and many more are hidden ingredients in these processed foods…. another crop most people would never think about is genetically modified bacteria which can be used to ferment cheese, wine, beer, dairy products and let’s not forget aspartame/ NutraSweet which is made from genetically modified bacteria excretions / waste..you also need to watch out for the synthetic genetically modified bovine growth hormone (rBGH/rBST) this is found in milk and some dairy products…http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9bkN0hv8yLc ….http://www.foxbghsuit.com/bgh3.htm watch out for GMO salmon which will ruin the environment and GMO apples…they have 2, 4-D crops which is a component of Agent Orange, waiting in wings for approval; as Roundup ready crops have failed because of super weeds and super bugs….so as previously stated now the active ingredient in Roundup which is Glyphosate can be found in human urine, human breast milk, organs, even bones and Bt toxin has been found in blood… Next we will have 2, 4-D to add to our bodily fluids but hey do not worry BIOTECH says it is perfectly safe… We must stop the lunacy before its too late!

    • RobertWager

      funny how food safety regulators around the world cannot find those alleged dangers. they all state food derived from GE crops are as safe or safer than food from other breeding methods.

      • April Reeves

        Because corn is a registered pesticide, not a food product. Here in Alberta, if we have even the smallest spill from the trucks, it has to be cleaned immediately.

      • commonsense

        “Food safety regulators”!? CFIA in Canada does ZERO testing. It is all done by the invested party! What are the chances that they would expose negative results?

        • ed

          They would never expose a negative result. They would hide it or put an extremely positive spin on it.

        • RobertWager

          CFIA dictates a huge series of testing protocols. What tests not already done would you like to see added to the evaluation of GE crops and why?

      • Rob Bright

        Said the well-known pro-GMO spokesperson and activist. You know very well there are many scientists expressing concerns over GE foods and the potential public safety risks they present.

        • RobertWager

          First all tests are dictated to companies according to internationally agreed food safety testing protocols.

          Second in the entire history of GE crops there has not been a single documented case of harm. Clearly the present system works pretty well.

          • ed

            The cancer concerns are off the charts in many reviews. There hasn’t been a single case of harm documented but rather dozens of studies documenting human health concerns. So you are correct about that and if the present system is working well, GEs should eventually get “weeded” out.

          • RobertWager

            Check with NCI Ed, you will find cancer rates are actually going down.

          • ed

            The cancer rates are actually going up. The only rational, and you hear it often to try and explain away the multitudes of peer reviewed studies that are proving the hugh spikes in most cancer among nations with industrialized agriculture, is that modern medical science is so much better at diagnosing cancer and at earlier stages, skewing the new numbers or making them more accurate than the old numbers, depending on how you look at it. The fact that these incidence numbers for many cancers are extremely elevated, is rarely, if ever, disputed. In fact you may be one of the first.

          • Bubbles

            Cancer rate are going up my husband has cancer I had three tumor. My sister mother in law just died from cancer we have an uncle and aunt life been claimed by cancer and the women on Husband side carry the gene to get breast cancer and one of his cousin has it. We also have several friends who have a family member with it. So I believe eventually everyone will be effected by this by a family member or friend.

          • ed

            Yes, you are correct in your assessment. It will be sooner if the trend to increase the use of products labeled with skull and crossbones continues unabated like it has. Not too likely that any backing off the poisons is in the cards for some time to come however.

          • richard

            …….other than a generation of obese individuals fed on the wonders of industrial ingredients derived from GE crops…..high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, soy isolates, flavorings, colorings, adjuncts, texturizers all brought to you by….you got it…..the usual suspects. Clearly the present system is a disaster unfolding in slow motion before our eyes……

      • TZ

        Hmmm, no alleged dangers yet they label all GMOs and many ban them… …

      • ed

        Not so, …

    • richard

      Great piece, thank you…..But remember, falsifying the news is not against the law….. In fact its the entire premise of industrial agriculture….wasteful abundance at all costs…….including the truth……

  • April Reeves

    I think its great having another product to choose from, because after all, that is what it is all about: looking after a customer base. Bring it on. It will not affect a single change than what you have right now: it will only serve a market that already exists.

    • hyperzombie

      it is not another product, it is the same product with a label that costs more.

  • Rob Bright

    For all the BS the pro-GMO activists spout, the one thing they tend to cling to in order to defend GMOs is “let the market speak for itself.” They simply have no leg to stand on if they argue against supplying the demand for non-GMO dairy.

    • ed

      They are losing the battle for sure. They have bad optics, no science other than that with they which created the “control freak” seeds, relatively high buy in, and no social conscience and a terrible marketing strategy.

  • Howard Vlieger

    Once dairy producers switch to Non-GM feed they will see improvements in the health and performance of their milk cows.

    • hyperzombie

      Most dairy producers feed the Dairy cows, BMR corn silage, and the health and production of dairy cattle has never been higher.

      • ed

        Actually it is so poor that it is making very poor quality cheese.

    • JoeFarmer

      Complete and utter nonsense, Howard.

      But I’m not surprised you typed this, since your livelihood depends on peddling junk science.

    • ed

      Yep, and relatively quickly.

  • ed

    No, the multiple applications of fungicides to protect high yielding corn varieties that are being grown on burned out soils of the North American plains is not a safe or sustainable method of producing nutrient dense clean food whether it be for nachos or dairy products. Somewhere along the way things will have to improve. We can not cheat nature on a constant basis and you can only fool people so long as well..

  • Denise

    Pesticides and dairy products have been linked to Parkinson’s disease and can cause brian damage.”Pesticides in Milk causing Brain Damage – Support Raw and Grass Fed Dairy”
    mercola.com

explore

Stories from our other publications