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ADM Goes "Back to the Future" With Organic Soy Product
(Beyond Pesticides, December 3, 2003) Archer Daniels Midlands (ADM), one of the largest food giants in the world, is now embarking on its first organic product - a powder made from organic soybeans for use in soymilk and fermented soy products. The powder, referred to as the "back to the future" product, will be processed at a new plant in North Dakota and will be USDA certified.

"The organic market has been growing by leaps and bound," says Phil Fass, ADM's Global Business Manager, in a November interview with Red River Farm Network. "And we decided that this market made a lot of sense to get involved in." When asked what's driving the demand, Fass replied: "It's a reaction to people wanting to get back to…products closer to the earth." Teresa Winchester, ADM's Communications Manager adds that, "…consumers continue to search for alternatives to traditional dairy and meat products that may have been affected by antibiotics and growth hormones."

Prior to the 1990s before big agribusiness firms took much notice of the organic market, the idea of purchasing organic food generally meant supporting small independent producers. Yet today, ADM joins a host of other corporate giants like General Mills, Proctor and Gamble, and Heinz who are buying out or creating special lines of organic products to tap into the small (roughly $11 billion per year) but growing market share of organic products.

ADM is no small operation. By June of this year the company reported annual net sales of over $30.7 million with more than 270 processing plants and 26,000 employees worldwide. It procures, transports, stores, processes and markets a range of agricultural products mostly from oilseeds, corn, wheat, cocoa and now soybean. ADM plans to contract the soybeans from other growers and process roughly 100,000 bushels of organic soybeans, according to Fass.

Although the location of the plant in Enderline, ND is in a largely organic area, ADM and its organic neighbors may want to watch out for seed drift from surrounding crops - most of which likely contain genetically modified organisms (GMO) that can be carried by wind and pollinators. Of all the crops planted in North Dakota, 74% contain GMOs - a sure fire way to be disqualified for organic certification.

For more information see Beyond Pesticides' program on Organic Food and Genetic Engineering.