At King Arthur Baking Company, we believe in transparency. Part of being a certified B Corp means being open about our business practices, and we feel you should have as much information about the ingredients in our products as we do.
All King Arthur brand products are made without the use of genetically modified (GM) ingredients, with the temporary exception of an ingredient in one product. Many of our products are also verified by the Non-GMO Project and carry the Non-GMO Project Verification seal. Other products may include a badge on their packaging which identifies them as being part of our Sourced Non-GMO labeling program. Some products may not contain either label, but are still sourced non-GMO.
What are GMOs?
The term “GMO” can mean different things to different people, and the technical definition can even change by country. We use the terms “genetically modified organism,” “GMO,” and “genetic engineering” when referring to organisms whose genetic makeup was not created through traditional cross-breeding methods (hybridization) or naturally in the wild; but rather through modifications made via the manipulation of DNA by introducing the genetic material of one or more species into another.
Made by splicing genes from one species into the DNA of another species in a laboratory, these combinations of animal, plant, bacterial, and viral genes create new organisms with desired traits, such as resistance to certain herbicides, insect pests, or disease. Genetically modified plants are often engineered to improve crop yield or add nutritional benefits like increased vitamin content.
GMOs are found extensively in major crops grown in the United States, like corn, soy, and sugar beets. GMOs have also been introduced in canola, alfalfa, cotton, papaya, and more recently in potatoes, zucchini, and summer squash.
How about wheat hybridization? Isn't today's wheat genetically modified?
Very few crops have been subject to the type of genetic engineering commonly referred to as GMO; however, virtually all plants have evolved naturally or have been cross-bred within the same species to yield new varieties.
Most of the wheat we harvest and consume today is the result of many years of traditional selective breeding by farmers and scientists. Traditional selective breeding creates new hybrids by combining two wheat plants with desirable traits. We’re proud to work with university agricultural programs to better understand their processes, how they select desirable traits to breed for, and how we can participate in order to improve the flour that we mill. One example of this is an endowment we’ve co-funded to support organic grain breeding and research at Washington State University’s Bread Lab.
Some of the desirable traits that are selectively bred in wheat include better drought tolerance, fuller seed heads, better baking quality, and shorter stalks (to prevent decreased yields from wind damage). Hybridization efforts have additionally led to wheat varieties that use fewer resources (fertilizer, water, fuel) and yield more wheat per acre.
Are all of your products non-GMO?
All King Arthur brand products are made from ingredients that are sourced non-GMO, with the temporary exception of an ingredient in one product. Due to supplier constraints related to the pandemic, the allulose in our new Baking Sugar Alternative doesn’t meet this criterion. All other ingredients in this product are sourced non-GMO and our team is hard at work to establish a stable, high-quality source of allulose that is non-GMO. It’s our intention to update this ingredient as soon as we’re able to do so.
Our flour is milled from wheat grown exclusively in the USA, and GMO wheat is not approved for commercial production in the United States and North America. Some of the products we make available from other vendors and brands may contain GMO ingredients.
What is your position on GMOs?
GMOs are controversial for a number of reasons. Above all, we believe that people have a right to know what's in their food: Our Sourced Non-GMO program and our use of the Non-GMO Project Verification is part of our commitment to our customers that they know what’s in their food.
We understand the concern around the risk of unknown consequences from GMO foods. Though GMOs have been widely used in human food for more than 20 years; that's not enough time to fully understand the risks and implications of these practices. We simply do not yet know the long-term consequences of genetic engineering. We also recognize the fear that GMO technology is controlled by a very small handful of companies, potentially leading to a monopolization of our food supply.
On the other hand, some believe that GMOs offer the potential for increasing agricultural output while at the same time reducing the number of inputs (chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides). As the global population grows, GMOs could be a way to produce enough food to feed everyone reliably. They also could enhance the nutritional content of common foods (for example: adding beta-carotene to "golden rice," increasing Vitamin A in the diets of people who consume it).
At King Arthur Baking, we hold ourselves accountable for providing the best baking products possible and for being transparent about our practices. Genetic engineering of food is a complex, often passionate debate. We partner with farmers, millers, and university research centers to keep abreast of new knowledge and practices within the wheat industry, including those related to genetic engineering. Whenever making product choices that will impact our customers, we carefully consider input from these experts in the field, feedback from the customers themselves, and our core company values. Customers should look to us for this level of engagement and hold us accountable for offering the highest quality baking products.