GENET archive


3-Food: Boehringer Ingelheim Self-Medication will provide GMO-free vitamins and food supplements

----------------------------- GENET-news -----------------------------

TITLE:  Boehringer Ingelheim Self-Medication studies relationship 
between GMOs and natural supplements
SOURCE: Boehringer Ingelheim Self-Medication press release
        edited and sent by Agnet, Canada
DATE:   March 24, 2000

-------------------- archive: --------------------

Boehringer Ingelheim Self-Medication studies relationship between 
GMOs and natural supplements

TORONTO -- While many Canadians are becoming increasingly aware of 
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) entering the world food supply, 
some wonder whether or not there are GMOs in vitamin and herbal 
supplements. Boehringer Ingelheim Self-Medication, manufacturers of 
Quest Vitamins and a leader in natural health product manufacturing, 
has taken steps to investigate GMOs, ensure continued high product 
quality, and answer consumer questions regarding this issue.

GMO crops create a greater abundance of food available for 
distribution since they grow faster, bigger, and are more resistant 
to pest damage. Some people feel that the use of GMO's is justified 
in order to increase the world food supply, which is essential to 
eliminating starvation. Also, use of GMOs that have been developed 
with internal resistance to pests decreases the need for pesticide 
use, which is a great benefit to our environment.

However, the other side of this debate feels that genetic 
modification may be causing changes to plants beside just their 
growth characteristics. Altering an organism's DNA has the potential 
to create completely new organisms. The long-term effects of these 
new substances are completely unknown since scientists do not 
understand how the newly modified DNA may break down into component 
nucleic acids that may, in turn, be absorbed into our own DNA.

GMOs are created by removing a gene out of the DNA of an organism (A) 
where it is controlled by that organism's expression pathways and 
interacts with its other gene products, and injecting this gene into 
the DNA of a completely different organism (B). Genetic modification 
occurs and a new organism is created with altered characteristics. A 
plant's characteristics may include those listed above, as well as 
its ability to produce new chemicals, or change the ratios of 
existing chemicals normally present. Among many others, existing 
chemicals may include vitamins, fatty acids, or other substances such 
as co-enzymes.

Consumers can take heart in the fact that the majority of source raw 
material suppliers are very concerned about this controversial topic. 
Many suppliers have committed to using GMO-free sources as long as 
they remain available. Also, during manufacturing the purification of 
source materials such as extracted vitamins, fatty acids or other 
substances, is properly carried out so other plant materials, 
particularly those containing proteins or DNA material, are not 
present. This process is a fairly standard practice conducted during 
the manufacturing of the high quality, commercial vitamin and 
supplement materials.

Don Beatty, Director of Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs at 
Boehringer Ingelheim Self-Medication, manufacturers of Quest Vitamins 
says "At Quest, we are extremely concerned about the proliferation of 
GMO materials entering our industry and are determined to ensure our 
products remain GMO-free. Since we are a full manufacturer of natural 
health products, and not simply a distributor, we are in a far better 
position to research our materials and guarantee our products. We 
have contacted each of our suppliers of target materials to 
investigate the potential for GMO contamination. Unless they are able 
to certify their materials are GMO-free, we will be choosing 
alternate suppliers that are able to fulfill our needs, and those of 
our customers. So far, we have received a very positive response."

While the controversy and struggle to control, regulate, and 
hopefully eliminate GMO's from our food supply continues, we do not 
need to be overly concerned or afraid of the vast majority of our 
natural health products. High quality products, from reliable 
sources, use materials that are free or purified of potential GMO 
substances. As well, the quantity of these products ingested is 
physically very small compared to conventional food products (e.g. 
potatoes, corn, wheat, and soybeans) that contain a higher 
probability for being from a GMO source.


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