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Cargill Europe Sets Up for GMO-Free Crush

(3 May - Cropchoice News) -- The European branch of Minneapolis-based agribusiness giant Cargill is gearing up to be a major provider of non-GMO soy protein in Europe. According to George Henni, manager of Protein Products Europe, the Dutch Cargill subsidiary will crush up to 80,000 tons of identity preserved Brazilian soybeans this year.

Quoted by Reuters, Henni says Cargill has "all systems in place" to cater to the non-GMO soy protein market. Much of Cargill's Netherlands crush is used in animal feeds.

Speaking to Cropchoice on condition of anonymity, a Cargill Europe source elaborated on the company's GMO-free system. According to the source, Cargill figured out how to avoid contamination problems at its crushing plants "some time ago." Plants in Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Liverpool (UK) are "rinsing the system" with 5 to 10 tons of GMO-free soybeans. After the "rinse", output is considered GMO-free. Using the system, Cargill can switch back and forth between bean types according to customer demand.

Sun Valley, Cargill's British subsidiary, confirmed earlier this year that it had switched soybean sources from US to Brazil so it can say its poultry feed products are GMO-free. Henni denies rumors, however, that Cargill intends to set up permanent year-round GMO-free crushing plants in Europe.

After Japan, the Netherlands is the USA's largest soybean buyer. Together the Netherlands and UK bought 15% of US soy exports in 1999. Dutch firms process soy and re-export products to European and global markets.

Cargill remains strongly in favor of biotech crops; but its new European policies may have some impact on markets. How identity-preserved and GMO-free crushing in Europe changes the bottom line for US farmers will be best measured later this year when the US harvest comes to market.

Sources: Reuters, Jan Paul Smit