Earth Day Pledge: No more GMO corn!

April 17, 2021

Spiritopia’s award-winning products are getting a sustainability upgrade this Earth Day! Sourcing ingredients that maximize flavor and minimize environmental impact is always a challenge. Corn is no exception. Corn is an important ingredient in our whiskeys, and we also previously used neutral spirit derived from corn in our liqueurs that are infusions (where the core ingredient has no fermentable sugar, like ginger and mint).  However, most of the corn in the USA has been genetically modified to resist weedkillers such as Round Up (see below). While this may improve short-term yield, it comes at an environmental cost. That’s why Spiritopia is taking a stand against genetically modified corn by switching to corn grown exclusively from non-GMO sources and cane-based neutral spirit for our liqueurs.
Spiritopia owner Chris Beatty says “Switching to non-GMO corn and cane is part of Spiritopia’s strong stewardship ethic. I sleep better knowing that we support sustainable agricultural practices that protect  the environment.”

What’s the big deal? Our core philosophy is that our products should be both delicious and environmentally conscious. Many modern crops have been altered with genes from other organisms or are synthetic. At Spiritopia, we worry about how those extra genes affect crops, other plants, animals and  pets, farm workers, our communities, and (ultimately) the entire environment. Roundup™ (aka glyphosate), is a synthetic weed killer that was developed in the ‘70s by  Monsanto (now Bayer). In the mid ‘90s, scientists engineered “Roundup™-ready” corn with genes that make them immune to Roundup™. Farmers could spray entire fields with Roundup™ to kill  weeds while leaving the crops standing. Unfortunately, there is a lot of collateral damage to unintended targets and the weeds eventually develop resistance. Glyphosate is extremely toxic to aquatic animals and honeybees, butterflies, and pollinators. Roundup™ residue is also found in a huge variety of foods, including breakfast cereal and staples. Is Roundup™ a human carcinogen, too? The jury is literally still out about that (No, really. Litigation is pending!).
While Roundup™ can reduce some harmful farming practices like tilling, the cancer controversy leaves farmers unsure of glyphosate’s risks. Many growers say they will still use glyphosate to meet their production needs. Worse, scientists are concerned that “genetic drift” will eventually make Roundup™ useless. More than 50 types of weeds have inherited Roundup™ immunity genes and natural resistance is evolving, even in ryegrass from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Even though there is no difference in taste with non-GMO corn, we  think you’ll agree that agrichemicals like Roundup™ don’t belong in our spirits or in our streams. That’s why  Spiritopia is saying “no to GMO corn” this Earth Day. Cheers!

Photo by Katherine Volkowski @kateinalandia

Supplemental research by Kate Schilke

Technical references available upon request