Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Dear Mr. MeadowLea, about those seeds...........

I have noticed a MeadowLea margarine advertisement screening on television for the past few weeks which focuses on the goodness found in the seeds used to make its spread.

On the MeadowLea website it claims:

Farmers grow our canola & sunflower seeds
MeadowLea spreads are made from over 70,000 natural seeds. The canola seeds that go into our MeadowLea spreads are Non-Genetically Modified. Our canola seeds are sourced locally from Australian Seed growers, whilst the sunflower seeds are sourced from the warm climate of South America.

Now I do not doubt that at this moment MeadowLea intends to honour this online claim.

However, I did not catch this non-GM pledge repeated in the particular television ad I saw.
Neither have I seen this exact claim on MeadowLea packaging.

What is claimed on the MeadowLea tubs is that the Canola Oil used is non-genetically modified. Something that can be safely stated in Australia, as
refined oil made from GM seed does not have to be so identified on a food label because it is not considered to have identifiable genetically modified plant DNA remaining.

There appears to be a long silence on the nature of the sunflower seed used in the manufacture of the margarine.

No mention is made of the fact that in the warm climate of South America mentioned by Goodman Fielder there have been genetically modified sunflower seed field trials underway since 2007 and, although there isn't a commercial quantity available yet the absence of a non-GM claim for this ingredient leaves the company with a lot of wriggle room should it chose to source from GM sunflower in the future.

So Mr. MeadowLea, Original, Salt Reduced, Light, Extra Light, Canola, Lactose Free - I think I'll give all margarine a miss for now.

If you genuinely want your products to be viewed as special a rethink of your labelling and advertising strategy might be advisable.

This is not the time for commercial ambiguity.


Unknown said...


I buy MeadowLea specifically because of the no GM thing. I emailed them and they promised me it was GM-free.

Why do I have this huge sense of betrayal?

Janet said...

Dear WaterDragon and Lyn,

We have become aware of your comments made on North Coast Voices entitled Dear Mr. MeadowLea, about those seeds….. and would like to make the following comments.

We use no ingredients or additives derived from or made from any GM crops in Meadowlea. The canola is sourced from non GM canola grown in Australia where we are working closely with farmers and the seed crushers to ensure that we have canola that remains segregated from the GM plantings which started to be produced in some states of Australia last year . We process our oils so we know that they are not being mixed with GM oils.

The sunflower oil we use is from S. America and the crop is non GM. Many countries are running trials with GM crops including sunflowers, this is true. Our oils buyer is currently in Argentina visiting and auditing both the seed and oil supplier to Meadowlea and we can confirm that we are not using GM sunflower.

Why isn't non GM sunflower on our packaging or website ? We did not believe it was necessary to talk about the non GM nature of sunflower as there is no commercial GM sunflower available. In fact the ACCC advises against publicizing benefits when there is none.

Should the circumstances change around sunflower we would of course push this further and include where relevant on packaging or websites.

Goodman Fielder proudly produces Meadowlea. When the GM canola moratorium was lifted last year in NSW and Victoria, , Goodman Fielder was one of the first Companies to publicly criticize this action. Our company policy states

Goodman Fielder Limited has a policy of providing good food products for consumers in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region.

Our aim is to anticipate and fulfill consumers’ needs for foods that are relevant to today’s lifestyles - foods that are safe, nutritious and delicious.

We believe that most consumers prefer foods that are not genetically modified and therefore wherever possible it is the company’s preference to use raw materials that are not genetically modified for our retail branded consumer products.

I hope that this answers your concerns
Janet Macdonald
Technical Director Meadowlea