Monday, May 19, 2008

On Solae and GMO Soy

As if being vegan didn't already cause enough dietary conundrums at the supermarket, now you have to worry about the source of vegan ingredients too. Is it organic? Genetically modified? Local? Overly processed? It's enough to make your head explode. Needless to say, I was a tad depressed when an anonymous poster wrote this in response to my ice cream cake post: "BTW So Good ice cream and soy milk is produced using Solae (a modified GMO soy product from Dupont and Bunge corporation). Soale is used in So Good products as well as many Yves products (they usually even have a Solae logo on the back of them). Stay away from them if you don't want to eat frankenfood." Well, as it turns out, said anonymous poster was partially misinformed. Solae is not a genetically modified food. I emailed SoGood and Yves Canada and Yves USA (who do use Solae (as you can see here), as does Mori-Nu), and they all assured me that they use non-GMO soy. Interestingly, Yves wrote that "the soy is the only ingredient that we will make a statement about regarding non-gmo; other ingredients have not been sourced to be non-gmo."

All that being said, Solae is not organic, and it is made by DuPont who has a less than stellar environmental record. Solae is also used to feed the livestock slaughtered in factory farms all over North America. So, what's a vegan to do?

9 comments:

vegan addict said...

Wow, that's a real disappointment...Seems as though DuPont owns the world. Thanks for posting about this, as I occasionally purchase Mori-Nu silken tofu. Sigh...

Eesh said...

Well that sucks! I'm just a fellow Canadian commiserating. I'll be interested in what others have to say on this issue. All I practically get over here is Yves!

Catofstripes said...

I think you should ignore your commenter.

This ever decreasing circle of rules that are created by the obsession some people carry over their food is damaging to the main vegan principle of avoiding exploiting other living beings.

All that any of us as individuals can do is try to ensure that we personally do not cause harm directly - we can't stop others eating meat except by example and we can't stop others feeding animals on vegetable foodstuffs - so if there's a foodstuff that is suitable for vegans and is not created by harming animals then I can't see why it should be avoided on that basis.

GMO in vegetation is another issue and requires a separate ethical decision. Many of us will hold strong opinions on it and that will inform our actions but it is not directly related to veganism in any quantifiable way.

Trying to tie the two positions together is not helpful to the vegan cause. It's the sort of association that undermines the logical position of veganism by demonstrating fanatical thinking.

Good vegans aren't fanatics, they merely do as their ethics require them to do. The same can be said of those eschewing GMO but that doesn't make it the same issue.

well, that's my opinion anyway. No doubt I'll get some rude replies now!

Kelly said...

There are definitely TONS of conundrums to eating healthily and responsibly. I agree with you that there are so many trade offs, including those that you mentioned. After reading the 'Ethical Gourmet' I've become very aware of the environmental impact of my diet and try to eat locally produced products as much as possible but it can be hard in an instant gratification society when we're used to having processed products shipped from all over the world or grapes from Chile in the middle of the winter. My approach has been to do the best that I can and to believe that even small tweaks are better than nothing.

Anonymous said...

I am the original said poster on this. I am probably not mis-informed. I asked Yves to provide me with proof of said non-GMO status and they have never don so. Mostly because there is actually no such thing as non-GMO standards unless a product is organic. Most Soy and Canola in Canada is GMO unless it is organic. So Yves can say it is non-GMO there is not certification for this beyond being organic.

Greenpeace has had them on a list of companies trying to get off GMO foods but not having done so yet (http://gmoguide.greenpeace.ca/).

I say don't eat it unless it's organic when it comes to soy or canola.

Happy Herbivore! said...

bummer! I don't eat Yves too often but they do make a good knockoff taco meat and Mori-Nu makes a good silken tofu. rat bastards.

Anonymous said...

I recommend using the recipes from Sarah Kramer and Isa Moskowitz/Terry Romero as they are great at providing DIY alternatives to our big business dependency on veggie burgers/crumbles etc and teach you how to make that stuff yourself! As well as this great blog too - keep up the great work Vegan Dad.

pseudoprometheus said...

What you said about Solae soy being fed to factory farmed animals made me wonder ... If demand for vegan faux meats made from Solae increased enough, would this increase the scarcity of the soy to the point of raising the operating costs of factory farms?

Something to consider.

(Though of course, in light of the biofuel issue, raising the price of soy might not be a good idea when it comes to world hunger.)

Anonymous said...

I think the more you examine farming practices, the more conundrums one runs into. For example, GMO soy is capable of pollinating non-GMO soy in other fields. And for vegans, it might be distressing to learn about all of the factory farm and animal products used on produce. Blood and bone meal, fish emulsion (emulsified fish parts sprayed on leaves), factory farm manures, feather meal, and so on, are commonly used on produce, even organic. So produce might not be as truly "vegan" as you think. I have rescued farm animals, and believe me, feed prices have already gone up. The thing is, the feed costs go up for everyone, so the more humanely produced animal products (although, "humane" is debatable) go up, too. So you aren't really hurting the factory farms. And, as prices rise, more people resort to factory farmed items.