New PEI firm aims to capitalize on non-GM soy demand

Canada’s Prince Edward Island is famous for being the home of Anne of Green Gables, but the picturesque island may soon become famous for non-GM soybeans.

PEI farmer Robert McDonald launched a new company, Atlantic Soy Ltd., and invested $2.5 million in a new processing facility for non-GM soybeans.

McDonald’s non-GM soy project is attracting increasing numbers of PEI farmers. In 2007, McDonald and 20 farmers grew 2500 acres of identity preserved non-GM soybeans. This year McDonald says the number of farmers has doubled to 40 and the acreage could reach 6,000. He estimates a potential for 20,000 acres of non-GM soybeans.

Farmers will produce high-quality soybeans to be used for making tofu and miso and sold to the Japanese market.

A Japanese buyer, Masayuki Kodaira, told The Guardian that PEI will produce good quality soybeans and that he is pleased to work with the island’s farmers.

Excited by non-GMO opportunity
The non-GM soy project was inspired by David Hendrick, president, Hendrick Seeds, a producer and supplier of non-GM soybeans based in eastern Ontario. McDonald met Hendrick several years ago and became interested in the potential to grow IP non-GM soybeans. Because he has contacts with the Japanese market, Hendrick acts as a marketing agent for Atlantic Soy.

PEI farmers who have been growing soybeans for livestock feed are attracted to the project because of the premiums they can earn producing non-GM. “Any premium over (soybeans for) the livestock feed business is money in their pockets,” says McDonald.

Potatoes are the main crop grown on PEI along with soybeans, but McDonald says potato and commodity soy acreage is decreasing. He says island farmers are excited by the opportunity to earn premiums for growing non-GM soy. “The premium is enough to encourage farmers to switch,” says McDonald. A recent open house at the new soy processing facility attracted 200 people, many of those farmers.

Atlantic Soy Corp.’s processing facility features storage capacity of 4500 tons, as well as a new grain dryer and conditioning equipment. The facility will be operating by the end of February. It is the only IP soy conditioning facility east of Montreal, says McDonald.

The facility allows PEI’s farmers to process soybeans on the island, thus saving them the considerable cost of shipping them to Ontario.

© Copyright The Organic & Non-GMO Report April 2008.

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