Where Does Gum Arabic Come From?


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Shelagh Young answered
Gum arabic is a sappy secretion from the acacia tree. The main source of gum arabic are acacia trees growing in Egypt and Sudan. It is a core ingredient of chewing gum, marshmallow and licorice sweets. It is also used as a stabilizer in many drinks including wine and canned soft drinks. Other uses include as the lickable glue on postage stamps and as an ingredient if shoe polish, watercolour paints and fireworks. Rumours circulate in the US that trade in this ingredient, which is vital to many US produced goods, is helping global terrorism by channelling income to Osama Bin Laden and his supporters. The drinks producer Snapple reputedly responded by renaming the ingredient as gum acacia. The US government has since asserted that Bin Laden sold his extensive acacia tree holdings when he was expelled from Sudan in 1996. Conspiracy theorists responded by suggesting "they would say that wouldn't they" but regardless of this quirky rumour it is true it is a concern to many big businesses that the main supplies of gum arabic come from relatively unstable parts of the world.

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