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Isn't buying what it sells for some food products
Novartis Goes Both Ways on Biotech

(7 August - Cropchoice News) -- Novartis, the world's third largest seed company, is continuing to play both sides of the court on biotech. The company sells tons of GMO corn seed to American producers; but is phasing out biotech ingredients in the foods it sells.

A letter from Novartis to Greenpeace last week claimed that "With the current sentiment among the population towards GMOs, we have decided to take all necessary practical measures to avoid using genetically modifed organisms in our products worldwide." But when Greenpeace made the letter public and the press published stories, Novartis' spokesmen feared a backlash from pro-GMO forces and started backpedalling. The company quickly tried to change its tune, claiming that "worldwide" only meant Belgium and the Netherlands.

In those countries, Novartis is withdrawing a "Chocosoy Cereal" candy bar because it cannot guarantee it to be GMO-free. Last year, Novartis announced it would only use non-biotech ingredients in its famous Gerber's baby food brand and a company spokesman recently told Reuters that it was gradually phasing GMOs out of its consumer health products. Novartis is a leading promoter of "functional foods" like Ovaltine and Eden brand health foods.

Ironically, in February Novartis' chief of Regulatory and Government Affairs Willy De Greef told the USDA's Agricultural Outlook Forum in Washington that Novartis would target food industry ingredient buyers and convince them to purchase biotech. But it appears that Novartis' campaign has been so unsucessful that the company hasn't even convinced itself. Novartis won't use its own biotech seeds for many of its own food products.

Based in Switzerland, in the USA Novartis sells NK Hybrids and Rogers brand vegetable seeds.

Source: Novartis, Reuters, Greenpeace, AP