What are Martek’s DHA and ARA oils?

Martek Biosciences Corporation, owned by the $12 billion Dutch conglomerate Royal DSM, markets DHA oil from a strain of algae that was genetically modified through induced mutations with the use of radiation and/or harsh chemicals. Any technique that genetically modifies organisms or modifies their development through means that are not possible under natural conditions is strictly prohibited in organic food production.

The algae and fungus are fermented in stainless steel tanks containing the microorganisms’ “feed,” which includes corn syrup, ethanol and other ingredients that are likely derived from genetically modified corn.

The algae and fungus, when used in infant formula, are then immersed in bath of hexane, a petrochemical and highly explosive synthetic solvent. Hexane is a known neurotoxin (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and hazardous air pollutant (according to the Environmental Protection Agency). The use of hexane is strictly prohibited in organic food production.

Algae destined for foods other than infant formula are extracted with the use of another synthetic solvent, isopropyl alcohol. Isopropyl alcohol is also prohibited in organic food production.

If the algal or fungal oil is found in powdered products, like infant formula or dry baby food such as rice cereal, it has been microencapsulated. Microencapsulation is also listed in the federal organic standards as a prohibited practice.

Finally, the algal or fungal oil – whether in fluid form or powdered form – is often stabilized and preserved with synthetic ingredients that are prohibited in organic foods, including the synthetic sugar alcohol mannitol, modified starch, glucose syrup solids, ascorbyl palmitate, etc.