We at RITTER SPORT take a clear stance on this issue. Bound by our promise of high quality, we strive daily to provide our customers with a chocolate which we can say is produced entirely in line with top RITTER SPORT quality: containing no raw materials composed of, containing or made using genetically modified organisms. Nonetheless, even with the strictest inspections for incoming raw materials, unintended contamination, e.g. through pollen drift in the fields cannot be completely excluded. But we are on the case, we promise.
Genetic modification is the name for deliberate changes to the genetic make-up of plants, animals and human beings which would not be possible in natural conditions. Three major areas can be pinpointed in which genetic modification is used: agriculture, medicine and the field of green technology and microbiology.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been a firm fixture of everyday life for quite some time now. Since the BSE (“mad cow disease”) crisis, in Germany alone, 60 to 70 percent of farm animal feed has been replaced with genetically modified soya from the USA.
The countries growing the largest amounts of GM plants are the USA and Brazil. Altogether, 25 countries grow genetically modified plants, mainly soya (77 percent), cotton, rapeseed and maize.
Since April 2004 the European Union has required clear labelling on all such genetically modified foodstuffs and feeds. This labelling requirement does not, however, apply to animal products such as milk, meat and eggs from animals fed with GMOs, as it was assumed until recently that they were broken down in the animals' intestinal tract. Recent studies have shown that this is not 100% true.
The advantage of genetic modification is that domesticated plants can be cultivated more cheaply and produce higher yields thanks to their greater pest resistance and lower use of pesticides.
Critics fear, however, that this deep level of interference in their genetic make-up could put native animals and plants at risk and consequently pose a risk to human health. There are worries about resistance to antibiotics, or allergies. Other counter-arguments include resistance building up among pests or useful insects being killed off.
Genetically modified ingredients are increasingly finding their way into the production of chocolate, too. Emulsifiers such as soy lecithin frequently come from genetically modified plants, and the cows whose milk is used to manufacture chocolate can be given feed containing GMOs.