All of the negative messaging by special interest groups might just seem like a propaganda war that we’re fighting, but it has real world consequences!
Sustainable Origins is an organization that works to promote Feeding America’s Invest an Acre program. They bring New York farmers into city food banks so they can see exactly who their donations and investments are going to help. Unfortunately, the following situation happened:
Volunteering at a food pantry in NYC today we saw a woman turn down frozen vegetables because they weren’t “GMO Free”. Tragic, sad and wrong
— Sustainable Origins (@SustainOrigins) April 28, 2016
This is a problem I originally wrote about back in 2014 – negative messaging on food safety is discouraging the consumption of fruits and vegetables. In fact, the Alliance for Food and Farming did a consumer study that indicated a link between negative messages about food safety and consumers feeling uncomfortable about purchasing non-organic produce. Given our country’s obesity epidemic, this is not a helpful!
For people that are struggling to make ends meet, the negative messages make the situation worse. They likely are unable to purchase all organic or non-GMO verified produced due to the higher prices. If they’re afraid or unwilling to purchase conventional produce based on those messages, then the only other solution is to not purchase any fruits and vegetables at all.
The situation described by Sustainable Origins seems even worse. This woman walked into a food pantry. While we don’t want to make too many assumptions, she was probably what is referred to as “food insecure,” meaning part of a family or household that has limited or uncertain access to food. In other words, she was going into the food pantry for food because her family probably doesn’t have enough to eat.
But instead of feeling confident that the food she was receiving meets the high standards and food safety of the United States agriculture industry, she was afraid. She was afraid because there wasn’t a label on her food assuring her that it was “GMO free.” Somewhere along the line, she’s been inundated with the notion that GMO foods are harmful and she needs to avoid them – even if it means not having access to the healthy produce her and her family need!
That’s an absolute crime and the people and organizations that perpetrate such a myth should be ashamed!
It’s also why companies like Hershey’s, Smucker’s, Chipotle, Campbell’s, Aunt Millie’s, and all the rest should be ashamed. Sure, they added those non-GMO labels onto their products so they can engage in a popular (and, sadly, successful) marketing tactic, but that marketing tactic hurts people. It unnecessarily spreads fear and misunderstanding.
This is also why I encourage you to say something when you see lies, propaganda, and bad information. You may not be able to convince everyone. Not everyone will listen. Some people will end up not liking you. But it might make a difference and it might help someone avoid being afraid and turning away food when they really need it – and that alone should be a pretty compelling reason to speak up.
Eric Bjerregaard says
When you say something. It is like planting seeds with a low germination rate. Even something like the next lady in line thanking the first, who rejected, and the grabbing the package might help. We have a few organic farmers who know better, and are respected in the community. If they would come out of the closet and speak up it would help. But they are afraid of losing status and sales. Their self image is also involved.
And this is the very reason why I, as a Democrat, hate both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Bernie feeds into this anti-GMO paranoia, and Hillary, after hearing how popular this rhetoric is among the less intelligent members of our party, has decided to echo Bernie’s views. Neither of them seem to care about how many Americans will go hungry if their food faddist views become law, thus making GMO foods either unavailable or too expensive.
I was fairly certain the only GMO vegetables currently on the market in the US are corn and squash. Then again, frozen item, not sure what may have been added along the way.