Dairy farmers launch campaign against deceptive Non-GMO labels


As misleading Non-GMO labels begin to appear on corporate food products, from Dannon to Tru-Moo, the farmers providing them the dairy are trying to reach consumers directly. Their “Peel Back the Label” campaign seeks to:

“give consumers access to the tools they need to separate hype from fact as they work to make informed food decisions for their families. It also will include ways for consumers to tell their own stories about the negative impacts of deceptive labeling, and share information with their social networks.”

According to their press release, dairy farmers are growing more concerned that corporate food producers are increasingly relying on deceptive labeling techniques to “prop up profits”. Though concerned about all such labels, such as “no high fructose corn syrup” or “hormone-free”, the farmers cite NON-GMO labels as being the most prevalent. Some of their examples include:

Hunt’s adding a “GMO-free” label to its canned tomatoes, even though there is no such thing as a genetically modified tomato currently on the market.
· Florida’s Natural adding a Non-GMO Project certification to its orange juice labels, despite the fact there are no commercially-grown, genetically modified oranges.
· Dannon adding a line of non-GMO yogurt, citing “sustainable agriculture, naturality and transparency,” but unable to point to any nutritional, environmental, health, or other consumer benefit.
· TruMoo milk acknowledges GMOs are safe on its website, while at the same time launching an advertising campaign for its milk with the tagline, “No GMOs, No Worries.”
· Himalania Rock Pink Salt adding a Non-GMO Project certified label, despite the fact that salt — a mineral — could never be GMO in the first place because it has no genes to modify.

The National Milk Producers Federation explains that companies like Dannon going “GMO free” is the exact opposite of the sustainability promises they make to consumers.

The press release goes on to cite “numerous voices from across the food sector calling out this troublesome marketing tactic”.

“This trend toward fear-based labeling may help prop up profits for food manufacturers, but it comes at a much greater cost for consumers who are trying to make informed choices for their families. Labels like these make consumers question their understanding of what’s really in their food and how safe it is to eat.” –Kent Messer, The Wilmington News Journal, 6/30/17
“If anything, the scaremongering around GMOs mistreats moms and their families by creating fear and mistrust of the conventional food supply in the absence of any scientific evidence. This can scare mothers on tight budgets to pay money they can’t afford for expensively labeled foods and to avoid fresh produce due to a misplaced fear of pesticides. Praying on a mother’s fears for the safety of her children is the most disingenuous use of marketing that I can imagine. “ –Alison L. Van Eenennaam,BioBeef Blog, 7/7/17
“Unfortunately, food manufacturers are being subjected to great public pressure to go ‘GMO-free,’ with brands like Dannon and Cheerios bowing to the pressure and shifting to sourcing only non-GMO ingredients. If this trend is allowed to continue, the impact on farmers, and in turn the environment, could be monumental. As champions of science continue to make their voices heard, it’s imperative to celebrate and acknowledge the promise of positive change embodied as technology being leveraged in multiple ways. If we allow science its chance at bat, we have a chance to win this.” –Tom Vilsack, The Hill,4/27/17
“The people who push GMO labels and GMO-free shopping aren’t informing you or protecting you…They use your anxiety to justify GMO labels, and then they use GMO labels to justify your anxiety. Keeping you scared is the key to their political and business strategy.” –William Saletan, Slate, 7/15/15
“What really bothers me as a shopper are the injustices that result from the proliferation of this and other similar anti-GMO marketing…The [Non-GMO Project] seal implies that there are GMO oranges available even though there are no genetically-engineered citrus fruits on the market. Tomatoes, grapes, and sea salt are among several such products that carry the seal even though there are no ‘GMO’ counterparts available.” –Kavin Senapathy, Forbes, 5/31/17

Corporations like Pepsi even admit publicly that consumers now “view real sugar as good for you. They are willing to go to organic, non-GMO products even if it has high salt, high sugar, high fat.” Instead of informing consumers with accurate information, they choose instead to profit from health halos they create around junk food.

Very little of this profit will be seen by the dairy farmers themselves, who instead will see their gains from more sustainable and efficient farming methods.

For more information check out peelbackthelabel.org.

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