Ben & Jerry’s threatened by anti vaccine Organic Consumers Association

Ben and Jerry’s recently found themselves the subject of a New York Times article about inconceivably trace amounts of a chemical in their ice cream.

When Unilever bought Ben and Jerry’s, part of the deal entailed the freedom for the ice cream maker to continue fighting with certain activist causes. This included their support of anti-GMO groups, even testifying against Unilever in a Vermont labeling bill case that went to court. Donations have been made to Friends of the Earth, Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Tides Foundation (often used to funnel money quietly to more extreme anti-GMO groups). They have also worked financially with the Just Label It campaign.

The goal of most of these groups is to encourage more non-GMO and organic supply chains, to bring the price down. Ben and Jerry’s has difficulty finding supplies of milk coming from organic cows, and activists are no longer settling for them just being anti-GMO.

The Organic Consumer’s Association (OCA) has decided to force the hands of the ice cream giant by needlessly scaring consumers away from their flavors. Despite their name, the OCA is much more than just a group encouraging organic farming. The are anti-vaccine, but advocates of homeopathy, chemtrail conspiracy theorists, and anti-fluoride.

They also helped spread measles in Minnesota.

On April 30, 2017, anti-vaccine groups held a community meeting in Minneapolis “to discuss measles and vaccines in the Somali community”. The goal of the meeting was to convince the Somali population that the MMR vaccine was more of a risk than actually contracting measles. Doubt was their product. The groups hosting the meeting included several anti-vaccine organizations with relatively small budgets. The one outlier is the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), which also happens to have a sizable budget.

The OCA is now claiming that Ben and Jerry’s ice cream contains approximately 1 parts per billion of a commonly used herbicide called glyphosate (varying very slightly by flavor). One way to look at this is to imagine taking a single serving of ice cream, dividing it equally among one billion people. Only one of those people would be given glyphosate. Another way would be to imagine one drop of glyphosate in a swimming pool of ice cream.

In fact most scientists use parts per million, but for activists 0.001 parts per million just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

The OCA used similar results to scare parents away from life saving vaccines

An individual with deep connections to OCA and the lab, HRI, that did the testing in fact is well aware that this testing may not exactly be accurate. In an email released by the Freedom of Information Act Henry Rowlands explains that he is looking to change public perception, rather than to actual accurate science in regards to glyphosate residue.

Henry Rowlands is described by the Genetic Literacy Project:

HRI Labs was a joint venture with John Fagan and Larry Bohlen, both of whom also manufactured a consumer scare over a GE crop called Starlink back in 2000. Henry Rowlands and John Fagan collaborate regularly over manufacturing the doubt over biotechnology. Fagan even created (though recently sold) Genetic ID which is used by the Non-GMO Project to detect the presence of GE crop ingredients in food.

Rowlands is described by Genetic Literacy Project:

Starting in late 2011 Rowlands appears to have jumped on the anti-GMO bandwagon and launched multiple advocacy websites and initiatives (many of which he registered while still employed by the NGO, Sustainable Trust, where Patrick Holden was director). He has been a primary “exclusive” source releasing and promoting GMO health risk claims in partnership with GM-Watch (Claire Robinson) from sources like by Gilles-Eric Seralini, Judy Carman and other “activist” linked researchers. Rowlands hosts numerous anti-GMO websites in addition to his organic lobbying and marketing business interests. He runs a fundraising destination “” raising money for “Mom’s Across America” March against Monsanto and the GMO Evidence project linked to Gilles Eric Seralini.

In some ways what these activists are doing could be considered a violation of RICO laws. In the United States to be in violation of RICO laws one needs to be found to have at least two acts of racketeering. One being extortion, which is the use of coercion to obtain a service.

According to the New York Times:

The Organic Consumers Association has been working with an organization called Regeneration Vermont to persuade Ben & Jerry’s to go organic….. “If they went organic, they wouldn’t have this problem,” said Will Allen, a founder of Regeneration Vermont and an organic farmer who has met with Ben & Jerry’s executives.

Even if glyphosate is classified by the World Health Organization as a class 2A probable carcinogen as an occupational hazard, the microscopic trace amount is far less than the class 1 known dietary carcinogen whisky found in their Bourbon Pecan Pie.

The 300 calories per 1/4 cup serving of ice cream is also something we can all do without.

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