[UPDATE 4] I finally heard back from the public affairs department at ConAgra. They haven’t answered any of my questions yet, but I’m optimistic that they will, now that I’ve written back and explained why I think they should. Hopefully, this post will become a source of actual factual information on the products in question, once I have the facts.
This is in response to: http://dadgoinggreen.blogspot.com/2011/04/wtf-is-sustagrain-and-why-is-it-in-my.html which has a character limit. So I guess I have to put it here on my own site.
[UPDATE] I believe this is the patent, #
6083547: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect2=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&d=PALL&RefSrch=yes&Query=PN/6083547 [update 3] No, I don’t think it is :( But I wrote ConAgra to ask
I think sustagrain is actually a process for making flour from barley that’s healthier in certain ways, or is alleged to be. Maybe I’m way off, but that’s what I’m getting from what I’m reading at the patent office. I might have to just write ConAgra and ask them. The only reason I haven’t done so already is that I’ve seen the same or nearly identical boilerplate response from them to other people who have written them (forums I found Etc) [update 3] Nope. After more reading, I’ve found that Sustagrain is a re-naming of a barley strain called Prowashonupana… I think. I wrote ConAgra and asked. At any rate, it appears that Prowashonupana is a conventional hybrid, not a GM strain. Again, I asked ConAgra.
Hello [to the guy that wrote the post this is a comment on].
I came across this while researching Sustagrain this morning after reading about the nutritional properties of various barley products (groats, pearled, rolled, pressed, Etc). I discovered such a thing as “sustagrain” exists and so I started trying to understand what it is and if it is or isn’t a GM crop.
A few points.
1. While I’m no apologist for companies like ConAgra, ADM, Monsanto Etc, who clearly have done some morally questionable things in the name of profit, I think that to keep things rational, it should be noted that not everything ConAgra does is necessarily evil. For instance, they do produce certified organic products, in addition to their scarier, unscrupulous profit-first activities. When companies get big enough to, it behooves them to take advantage of the power they can wield over legislation. I’m not justifying this as much as trying to point out that this is probably built into the culture of our economy and the kind of society we live in. When it’s food that we’re talking about, it’s easy to feel like it’s personal because it hits so close to home, but it’s just regular old free market capitalism doing its job: profit above all else.
- According to all the research I’ve done this morning, Sustagrain is not a GMO. At least it’s not a biotech/genetic-engineering crop. It is a hybrid created via traditional methods. Please correct me if you know that I am wrong about this and point us all to some facts… (the web is cluttered with speculation and fear about this but very few facts). It is patented, so there’s something going on that I don’t quite understand yet. (I will try to find the patent, which of course is public info, at the patent office later today).
If anyone has found any evidence that this kind of barley is a GMO, please respond with some real info. As far as I can tell it isn’t.
- (this is the thing that some people will be turned off by but please try to hear past the catchphrases and trigger-words that might make you want to disagree with me implusively)
The popular debate on GMOs is centered almost entirely on the practices of Monsanto, particularly their Roundup-ready plant strains (mainly corn and soy). As far as I can tell there are in fact very few varieties of GM crops in production (even though of course there’s a ton of the few that are in production being grown)… For instance I don’t believe there is currently a GM barley being produced at all. It’s mostly corn and soy that everyone is talking about.
And there are two main things that most people are taking issue with: First there’s patent law concerning these GM crops and the injustice this has led to with regard to farmers’ rights and the lawsuits resulting. Next, there’s the general issue people take with the use of chemical pesticides, which of course we can assume that roundup-ready crops get treated with.
Whenever the subject of GMOs comes up, I feel like it is important to point out that not all GM crops are roundup-ready ones.
There are at least several examples of GM crops that have been developed for the purpose of improving nutrition, particularly in regions that have limited access to a diversity of food and suffer from malnutrition and/or certain deficiencies/diseases that can be helped by so-called “frenkenfoods.” So in those cases, it’s really a nuts-and-bolts type of question of whether or not we are simply morally opposed to and afraid of any and all genetic engineering. If you are, you might find it worthwhile to learn a bit about how all this stuff works. It sounds scary when you hear of “putting fish genes into a tomato, where they don’t belong” but I promise, this is an oversimplification of what is going on. And repeating this kind of rhetoric just prolongs a widespread ignorance of the facts. There’s a sort of ‘fundamentalism’ around the subject that feels a bit scary to me and reminds me of an older time when people may have said “electricity is the work of the devil” or other things like that in reaction to something that was new and seemed scary to them. Personally, I prefer to eat Organic, but my motivation is to avoid pesticides and other unsustainable practices and vote with my wallet for better farms that produce using a more natural process.
And about patent law, like with just about every other aspect of intellectual property law, it badly needs to be adjusted.
There’s another reasonable concern I hear occasionally about contaminating the greater food supply through cross pollination Etc. I can relate to this concern and it bothers me a bit too.
But let’s try to be smart about things. Pesticides, Patent Law and the general concept of ‘gene tampering’ are all separate issues.
I’ll try to find the patent for sustagrain and post it here.