Satya has ceased publication. This website is maintained for informational purposes only.

To learn more about the upcoming Special Edition of Satya and Call for Submissions, click here.

back issues


March 1999
How Safe is Your Soy?

By Hillary Hoffman


If you’re a vegetarian and think your food is safe, think again. It may be tainted with pesticides, herbicides or genetic modification. In trying to restructure the “organic” label, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were almost classed as organic in 1998. The proposal was flatly rejected by the public, but the Monsanto biotechnology company is still vying for 100 percent of the soybean market in which to sell their genetically altered beans. Satya surveyed a few producers of soy products to gauge concern.

Ten of the twelve surveyed companies who manufacture soybean products stated that they are against genetically engineered foods. The reasons given for this was concern over GMOs expressed either by the company or its customers. Many manufacturers felt that the consequences of GMOs could not be predicted, that effects could not be traced and that the health of consumers was at risk. They felt that the consumers were afraid of the new technology, and as a representative from Amy’s Kitchen stated, consumers see it as “tinkering with nature.”

Sam Weinreb from Local Tofu told Satya that genetically engineered foods are indicative of “an increasing impersonalization in society, morally separating us from our environment.” The representative from Fresh Tofu, Inc. said, “Genetic modification doesn’t look at the bigger picture. What it does is it zones in on a part of the issue without having regard for the ultimate consequences.” He said that scientists know that a particular crop is bothered by a particular insect, so they create a genetic modification which introduces the insecticide into the genes of the plant. Over time, the insects adapt and then genetic engineering no longer provides a solution to the problem. It was, he suggested, “a short-sighted fix.”

Other companies either weren’t aware of the issue or very concerned about it. The representative at Upcountry said that his company hadn’t discussed it. He told Satya he didn’t know if genetically engineered food made a difference or not: “I don’t really know enough about it.” The representative from Tofutti Brands, Inc. stated that the issue is “like fighting an uphill battle” in that the corporations are the ones who are making the decisions for everyone. Representatives at Worthington Foods, Inc., Tofutti Brands, Inc. and Rella Good Cheese said they didn’t think there were enough organic products available to accommodate the mass quantities of food being produced in the United States. Meanwhile, many companies felt their consumers were turning to organic foods because they felt safer about that kind of product.


Five of the twelve companies stated that the provisions they take to ensure their suppliers are not mixing genetically altered soybeans with ordinary soybeans is that they buy third party certified organic beans. Third party certification is when an independent agent inspects the farm and grounds. The farmer keeps records and a fee is paid for inspection. Certification is done by an agent who has been accredited by a certification agency. Two representatives stated that they receive written confirmation from their suppliers that they are not using GMOs. A general feeling of trust for growers and suppliers was expressed. Several companies said that they had worked with their suppliers for 15 to 20 years and felt they were similarly against genetically engineered foods.

Other companies (such as Wor-thington Foods) are either knowingly using genetically engineered soybeans or are using possibly tainted beans. The representative from Tofutti Brands, Inc. argued it was getting more difficult to secure their sources as GMOs are in widespread use. He said that GMOs are also very cost effective and that companies engineering them “drive everyone else out of business.”

Seven of the twelve companies felt their consumers were concerned about the possibility of the “organic” label being altered and that labeling was important, and two—Amy’s Kitchen and Fresh Tofu, Inc—cited the protest at the USDA’s proposal to allow GMOs to be classified organic. The majority of manufacturers worried whether unlabeled soy could be traced and that it would only add to the distrust for the new technology. The representative from Nature’s Hilights, however, stated that she didn’t think their consumers were really thinking about the issue. Mr. Morris from Cemac Foods Corporation stated that he wasn’t aware of biotechnology companies vying for the inclusion of GMOs in organic certification, but that he didn’t think there was a real possibility of that happening. Archer Daniels Midland Company, a large American food manufacturer, failed to respond to a request for an interview.

Is your soy organic?
How reliable is the label, organic, in terms of not being treated with, pesticides/ herbicides?
Contact Info
Rella Good Cheese organic certification ensures reliability Rella Good Cheese: P.O. Box 5020, Santa Rosa, CA 95402, tel. 707-576-7050
Nature’s Hilights not organic does not apply Nature’s Hilights: P.O. Box 3526, Chico, CA 95927, tel. 800-313-6454
VitaSoy organic absolutely reliable Vitasoy: tel. 800-VITASOY
Cemac Foods organic certification ensures reliability Cemac Foods: Philadelphia, PA 19124, tel. 215-288-7440
Smoke and Fire organic pretty reliable Smoke and Fire: P.O. Box 743, Great Barrington, MA 01230, tel. 413-528-6891
Nasoya organic reliability assured w/organic label Nasoya: tel. 800-229-TOFU
Local Tofu organic very reliable Local Tofu: Nyack, NY, tel. 914-358-2309
Amy’s Kitchen organic reliability is assured Amy’s Kitchen: P.O. Box 449, Petaluma, CA 94953, tel. 707-762-6194
Worthington Foods not organic does not apply Worthington Foods: Worthington, OH 43085, tel. 614-885-9511
Fresh Tofu, Inc. organic very reliable Fresh Tofu, Inc.: P.O. Box 1125, Easton, PA 18044, tel. 610-258-0883
Upcountry organic very reliable Upcountry: Pittsfield, MA 01201, tel. 413-496-8018
Tofutti Brands, Inc Tofutti Brands, Inc. not organic/Kosher Parv does not apply Tofutti Brands, Inc.: Cranford, NJ 07016, tel. 908-272-2400

Other contact info:

  • Farm Verified Organic: R.R. 1, Box 40A, Medina, ND 58467, tel. 701- 486-3578
  • Organic Crop Association: tel. 402-477-2323
  • Walnut Acres: Penn Creek, PA, tel. 717-837-0601


All contents are copyrighted. Click here to learn about reprinting text or images that appear on this site.