Sustainability is a multidimensional concept that encompasses economic viability, environmental protection and social responsibility. Many sugar industries around the globe are explicitly adopting good agricultural, industrial, social and environmental practices in the context of assuring economic viability, within an overarching effort to ensure the long-term sustainability of their industry.
These sustainability initiatives, with a focus on production processes and the environment, have developed in unison with the growing demands from food and beverage companies for sustainably produced commodities which meet required standards related to human rights, labour working conditions and environmental impacts. Global retailers and leading brands are implementing codes of conduct and sourcing policies to manage risk and identify suppliers offering certified sustainably produced commodities, sugar included.
Whilst certified sustainable sugar is yet to gain traction on a world scale, there is undeniable evidence that many sugar industries are embracing programs and initiatives to adhere to sustainability principles even when not choosing to explicitly certify themselves. Juxtaposed with this sustainability movement is the GM sugar issue. Proponents of GM crops promote them as innovative science-based technologies that contribute to the achievement of sustainability. Opponents fear unforeseen consequences for the environment and human health, meaning consumers in some countries might demand segregation of GM and non-GM sugar.
A key issue for the future is how might GM sugar mesh with both local and international sustainability standards and marques? This study conducts a literature review of academic papers on the debate over the sustainability of GM crops to examine whether they can, indeed, be sustainable and can be integrated with current certified sustainable sugar initiatives.
INTRODUCTION 1 STANDARDS, SUSTAINABILITY AND CERTIFICATION IN THE SUGAR WORLD 1.1 Concept of Sustainability 1.2 Traditional Standards: A focus on products and facilitating the exchange of goods 1.3 The Organic and Fairtrade Movements – A focus on Production Processes 1.3.1 The Organic and Fairtrade Movements – from informality to certification 1.3.2 The Organic and Fairtrade Sugar Market Organic Products Market Suppliers of Fairtrade sugar Sales of Fairtrade sugar Organic and Fairtrade sugar and the world sugar market 1.4 Sustainability and Sugar Industry Initiatives and Programmes 1.4.1 EU Beet Sugar Sustainability Partnership (EU BSSP) 1.4.2 Sustainability Initiatives in Cane Sugar SUSFARMS - Sustainable Sugarcane Farm Management System - South Africa Smart Cane Best Management Practices – Australia 1.5 Multi-stakeholder Sustainability Standards From Better Sugarcane Initiative to Bonsucro 1.6 Critiques on Certification Initiatives 1.7 Why Certify…? 2 GM CROPS – BACKGROUND INFORMATION 2.1 What are GM Crops? 2.2 Where are GM crops grown? 2.3 Where are GM crops being approved as food and feed? 2.4 What about GM Sugar crops? 2.4.1 GM Sugar Beet 2.4.2 GM Cane 2.5 Public perceptions 3 GM CROPS AND SUSTAINABILITY-A LITERATURE REVIEW 3.1 Effects on the environment 3.1.1 Herbicide and pesticide use 3.1.2 Biodiversity 3.1.3 Weed resistance to glyphosate 3.1.4 Gene flow 3.2 Economic Efficiency and Technical Efficacy 3.3 Socio-Economic Effects 3.4 Human Health 3.5 Literature Review Summary 4 CERTIFIED SUGAR AND GM – DO THEY MESH? 5 GENERAL OBSERVATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS 6 WORKS CITED