Ogden company works to verify products as non-GMO

May 6 2014 - 8:59pm

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Veronica Gonzalez collects packets of Power Pak and places them in boxes at Trace Minerals Research in Ogden on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. The majority of Trace Minerals Research are currently GMO free and they are moving to make all of their products GMO Free by 2016. (BRIANA SCROGGINS/Standard-Examiner)
General Manager Ryan Fisher talks to Maria G. Lopez, left, and Ana Mejia, right, at Trace Minerals Research in Ogden on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (BRIANA SCROGGINS/Standard-Examiner)
ConcenTrace® Trace Mineral Drops is one of Trace Minerals Research's top selling products.The majority of Trace Minerals Research are currently GMO free and they are moving to make all of their products GMO Free by 2016. (BRIANA SCROGGINS/Standard-Examiner)
Justin Berry packs up products for orders at Trace Minerals Research in Ogden on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (BRIANA SCROGGINS/Standard-Examiner)
Veronica Gonzalez collects packets of Power Pak and places them in boxes at Trace Minerals Research in Ogden on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. The majority of Trace Minerals Research are currently GMO free and they are moving to make all of their products GMO Free by 2016. (BRIANA SCROGGINS/Standard-Examiner)
General Manager Ryan Fisher talks to Maria G. Lopez, left, and Ana Mejia, right, at Trace Minerals Research in Ogden on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (BRIANA SCROGGINS/Standard-Examiner)
ConcenTrace® Trace Mineral Drops is one of Trace Minerals Research's top selling products.The majority of Trace Minerals Research are currently GMO free and they are moving to make all of their products GMO Free by 2016. (BRIANA SCROGGINS/Standard-Examiner)
Justin Berry packs up products for orders at Trace Minerals Research in Ogden on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (BRIANA SCROGGINS/Standard-Examiner)

OGDEN -- Genetically Modified Organisms can be found everywhere, including the clothes people wear and the food they eat.

If a food has a sweetener or a bit of soy, it may have GMOs. Even a burger may come from a steer fed with genetically modified alfalfa.

For the people who buy products from the Ogden-based supplement company Trace Minerals Research, even a trace amount is too much.

Organic was previously the number one issue for health products shoppers. Now it is non-GMO, Trace Minerals Research managing partner and co-owner Matt Kilts said.

To meet its customers' demands, the company underwent a certification process to have the right to label some of its products as non-GMO.

The process requires the company to hire a service to scrutinize each of the ingredients that go into all of its products.

Kilts said the move came when Whole Foods Market, the nation's largest organic and health food retailer, asked all of its vendors to be verified as non-GMO or be labeled as such.

"Once that move was made, that put everyone in motion," Kilts said.

About 70 percent of the company's products are certified or on the way to certification, Kilts said.

Kilts said the company plans to have all 80 of its products completely certified as non-GMO.

To reach this goal, the company needs to reformulate, certify and change labeling.

Trace Mineral Research recently completed the verification process on its Utah Sea Minerals product.

Previously certified products include ConcenTrace, Trace Mineral Drops, Mega-Mag, Ionic Magnesium and Optimal-pH.

But switching to all organic and GMO-free ingredients adds to the cost of production.

It is less expensive to use a sweetener, for instance, that may have derived from genetically modified corn.

While in the rest of the country the most common genetically modified products include soy beans, cotton and tobacco, in Utah, the most commonly used GMO product is corn. Growers introduced genetically modified alfalfa to the state about three years ago.

The GMO industry in Utah is limited to planting and growing, staying at the level of farmers and seed dealers.

Development is limited to companies such as Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer.

"It costs a tremendous amount of money to develop these traits and bring them to market," USU extension agronomist Earl Creech said. "There are really no mom and pop seed people creating these things."

Those that do manage to create a new breeds usually sell them to larger operations.

Research for the health benefits so far show they are safe for consumption for humans and animals.

Through genetic modification, a crop can be resistant to drought or bad soil, such as one that has high salinity levels.

Diane Alston, Utah State University entomologist, said that most often crops are genetically modified to be resistant or more tolerant to pesticides or herbicides.

In Utah, the mostly common used GMO is corn.

Creech said about 90 percent of the corn grown in the state is a GMO, of a variety that is resistant to the herbicide Roundup. Creech described Roundup as a long running product, which is inexpensive and so far safe to use.

So while the scientists do not doubt the safety of the GMOs themselves at this time, the problem Alston and Creech said comes from overuse.

Farmers use too many pesticides or herbicides, which they say have negative effects on other plants and animals. Alston called these non-target effects.

"Once it has been realized," Alston said, "growers do not want to lose the advantage."

Alston said the overuse of pesticides may be leading to beehive collapse.

Overuse probably also leads to the decline in the monarch butterfly as milkweed, the caterpillar's primary food source, has been killed off with the weeds and plants that farming operations wish to do away with.

"The monarch butterfly is greatly suffering for those reasons," Alston said. "I'm sure there are many butterfly species whose caterpillars depend on those plants."

Overuse also leads to resistance to herbicide and pesticide as well.

"When something works really well," Creech said, "people tend to overuse it a lot and people tend to abuse it and they forget common-sense methods."

The use of GMOs, as well as herbicides and pesticides, should only be a component to agriculture, along with other methods.

"I think they are a component if used very carefully and cautiously, but that hasn't been the case," Alston said.

Regardless the consequences, the cost effectiveness of using GMOs has made their use prevalent in many products.

To avoid them, shoppers wary of the use of GMOs have to be more diligent. They may also pay a premium.

While going completely GMO free may be cost prohibitive for most consumers, it is the price of doing business to meet the needs of a health food consumer.

"It would not be wise for us not to take it seriously," Kilts said.

Contact Jesus Lopez Jr. at 801-625-4239 or jlopez@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @jesuslopezSE and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/JesusLopezSE.

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