Dear Aunt Millie’s:
As you know, I originally wrote an article about your newly labeled non-GMO products. I was disappointed to see that you chose to jump on the bandwagon of demonizing a scientifically valid technological tool for agriculture by adopting this label. I stated that this was offensive to the farmers that have adopted this technology, because you’re insinuating that we are risking the health and safety of consumers with our practices. Surely, nothing can be more insulting to a farmer than to suggest we’re making bad or dangerous food products! Sadly, although my family has enjoyed your products for years, I also vowed that we would no longer be buying your bread as a result.
I was pleasantly surprised when you responded to me on Twitter. Unfortunately, you tried to suggest this change was simply done for the sake of giving consumers a choice on whether they wanted to purchase foods containing GMO crops. As I pointed out, that didn’t seem to be your real motivation because you had inaccurate and misleading information on your website. I was, again, pleasantly surprised when you invited me to submit a revision of your online statement. Below I have included that revision, as well as an explanation as to why the statements you originally made were incorrect or inaccurate.
Your original statement:
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. GMOs are crop plants that have been modified in a laboratory to enhance certain traits. Genetic modification can result in nutritional enhancement, decreased use of herbicides from amplified herbicide resistance, and increased crop yield.Throughout history, crops were improved through generations of careful breeding, but advances in science now allow this process to be sped up in laboratories.
Because GMOs are still a new science, there have been no long-term studies to substantiate their exact effect on our health. It is possible, however, that the modification of crops could lead to the development of new food allergies. GMOs also pose a potential threat to other plants and animals due to their unknown ecosystem interactions.
These uncertainties, in conjunction with conflicting religious and/or cultural views, leave some consumers wary of products containing GMOs. Non GMO is seen as the biggest emerging food trend. Below is information about Non GMO in grocery
My suggested revisions:
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. GMOs are crop plants that have been modified in a laboratory to enhance certain traits. Genetic modification can result in nutritional enhancement, decreased use of herbicides from amplified herbicide resistance, and increased crop yield.Throughout history, crops were improved through generations of careful breeding, but advances in science now allow this process to be sped up
in laboratories.and more precise.
Because GMOs are still a new science, there have been no long-term studies to substantiate their exact effect on our health.Before GMOs are commercially available, they undergo thorough testing and review by multiple regulatory agencies. All commercially available genetically modified crops have been shown to be just as safe as their non-GMO counterparts. It is possible, however, that the modification of crops could lead to the development of new food allergies. GMOs also pose a potential threat to other plants and animals due to their unknown ecosystem interactions.In fact, GMOs are the most rigorously tested and highly regulated foods in the world.
At Aunt Millie’s, we support farmers that produce both GMO and non-GMO products.
These uncertainties, in conjunction with conflictingHowever, we also understand that some religious and/or cultural views, leave some consumers unable or unwilling to eat wary ofproducts containing GMOs. Non GMO is seen as the biggest emerging food trend.Out of respect for those customers, we have created the non-GMO label. While we do not wish to cause confusion or undermine the use of scientific and technological advancement in farming, we also want to offer our customers choices.
Explanation of Terms and Sentences Removed:
You’ve already pointed out to folks that GMOs are plants that have been modified in “a laboratory.” Words have meaning and invoke certain reactions. Mentioning it again just seems like a way of trying to cause some apprehension in consumers. The crops aren’t produced in laboratories, the genes are simply modified there. Furthermore, saying that genetic modification, as defined, is more precise through this technique is more accurate.
“Because GMOs are still a new science, there have been no long-term studies to substantiate their exact effect on our health.”
This is just patently false and probably the most offensive thing in your entire statement. Genetically modified crops are the most transparent, heavily researched, and highly regulated foods in the world. In reality, extensive scientific data has been collected demonstrating that the GMOs available pose no threat to humans, animals, or the environment. If you’re interested in learning more about this information, I suggest you check out GENERA – the world’s largest database of GMO-related studies. Furthermore, as I added to the statement, several regulatory agencies in the United States review all genetically modified crops before they become commercially available, including the USDA and EPA. The FDA has also reviewed most, if not all, of those crops. All commercially available GMOs have been found to be just as safe as their non-GMO counterparts.
“It is possible, however, that the modification of crops could lead to the development of new food allergies.”
Possible, but not with the currently available GMO crops. In fact, this is one criteria the FDA evaluates before approving new GMOs. To date, no genetically modified crops have been modified to contain any known or common allergens. Inclusion of such an allergen would assuredly require labeling. As such, this statement serves no purpose except to create a false correlation between GMOs and known allergens.
“GMOs also pose a potential threat to other plants and animals due to their unknown ecosystem interactions.”
Along with food safety testing, the EPA’s evaluation of genetically modified crops also includes an assessment of how that crop will function and interact with the environment. Again, this statement serves no other purpose except to create a false narrative that GMOs may cause some danger to the environment.
There is widely accepted scientific consensus about GMOs. The only people claiming there is not a consensus are usually not qualified to make such statements.
“Non GMO is seen as the biggest emerging food trend.”
As I stated in my original article, I believe you made the decision to implement a non-GMO label simply for the sake of making bank on consumer fears. That’s exactly what the anti-GMO movement and, consequently, the non-GMO label are aimed at – taking advantage of uncertainty and fears in the minds of consumers. I took this line out more for your sake than mine; no reason to fully admit that you also want to take advantage of that market.
I also find the photo you have on this website offensive. Currently, the photo is an ear of corn. Some of the kernels are missing and replaced with things that looks like drugs, including a few that even say “Rx” on them. That is incredibly misleading. None of the genetically modified crops on the market today have been modified with any type of prescription medications. Again, you are attempting to create a correlation between GMOs and drugs which is false and serves to do nothing more than create apprehension in your customers.
I realize that this new statement probably doesn’t sound quite as trendsetting or juicy as your original statement. I know that it doesn’t have the marketing attributes (why not use some of that anti-GMO sentiment to hype up your new product?) that your original statement had. I realize that the truth may not help boost sales. However, this statement is at least accurate. It doesn’t spread fear or cause confusion amongst consumers. Nor does it insinuate that the farmers providing the ingredients for your other products are intentionally doing something that could create harmful or dangerous food.
I will never be a fan of non-GMO labeling, because I think it is inherently misleading and confusing. However, fixing the statement on your website would certainly go a very long way towards making this situation right and possibly bringing my family back to your products. I’d love to be able to tell my readers and social media followers that you compromised on this point.
The Farmer’s Daughter USA
Great response! Very well articulated and based on facts, research and science rather than hyperbole, fear and misleading statements!
Russ Hendryx says
Eric Bjerregaard says
Hi Amanda, well done. I would have considered adding as comment about g.e. insulin as a counterpoint to the
“new science” claim. Have they responded to you yet?
Good point, Eric! No, I have no addressed insulin, but you’re right. It also makes people like Neal Young quite a hypocrite for attacking the use of GMOs in agriculture, but using it to – quite literally – save his life. Thanks for the comment!