Alterra Pure, an organic and fair trade sheet company, tried to do a little bit of science last week when it posted the following image on its Facebook page:
Unfortunately, Alterra Pure failed miserably. Contrary to Alterra Pure’s claim, the cotton was not modified “solely” to “enable” pesticides. It was modified to reduce pesticide use, increase yields, and cut down on the carbon footprint of cotton. Let me explain…
Cotton has been genetically modified in two ways. First, the cotton has been modified so it can produce the Bt protein. The protein is indigestible by one of cotton’s biggest pests – the bollworm. However, it is completely safe for humans because we can digest the protein, unlike the bollworm. That means farmers do not have to even apply pesticides to kill the bollworm, completely eliminating that application. Second, the cotton has been modified to be Round-Up Ready. That means farmers can apply the Round-Up herbicide to the field without killing the cotton plant. Farmers actually use less herbicides overall because we can take care of weeds in one pass of the field. In the end, the GMO cotton is actually better for the environment and farmers!
Alterra Pure’s original Facebook post receive a bunch of comments disagreeing with its misleading claims. Ultimately, it looks like Alterra Pure decided to take down the post. However, it was up long enough for them to take a page from Stonyfield’s public relations book and delete comments or ban users that didn’t tow the company line. This response from the company also started showing up on other platforms when negative reviews were left:
This individual has never purchased anything from Alterra Pure; and, no employee of Alterra Pure has ever interacted with this individual.
This individual is a member of a pro-gmo, pro-pesticide, anti-organic activist group(s). These groups organize and execute attacks on ventures including Alterra Pure, Stonyfield, and other organic-focused organizations. Membership lists for these groups are publicly available on their group pages on Facebook. These comments seek to defame Alterra Pure and damage our business, both here and on Facebook. Ours is only the latest organic venture to be defamed by these pro-gmo, pro-pesticide groups.
The audacity is amazing to me. Alterra Pure thought it could post a false statement disparaging GMO cotton and get away with it. With unimaginable arrogance, it thought it was immune from correction or public backlash. It honestly thought it could just say whatever the heck it wants to sell its product, even though those claims were misleading. When people actually spoke up about it, the company decided the best option was to delete those comments, ban those users, and accuse them of all just being some kind of activists.
No, Alterra Pure: these are consumers that are fed up with the lies, the deceit, and the garbage that companies like yours use to sell products.
Once again, this gives me so much hope for the future. Companies are no longer able to post these types of messages without hearing from consumers that are sick of it. This never, ever would have happened 5 years ago. Once again, thank you to all of those so-called activists that stood up and said something in this situation.
Here is a hint for PR companies of any brands that want to try this: Don’t. Sell your product for all the reasons it is better than your competitors. Don’t lie. Don’t mislead. Don’t use fear. Just make a better product.