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Farmers angry at Dannon for pledging to label, ultimately eliminate GMOs


(NaturalNews) Earlier this year, the Dannon Company made a pledge to begin labeling its GMO-containing products before eventually phasing out GMO ingredients in many of them, but some farmers are unhappy and are now voicing their opposition to the plan.

The "Dannon Pledge," announced in April, involves the shift of three of the company's brands – Dannon, Danimals and Oikos – to non-GMO ingredients and the use of non-GMO feed for cows. These three brands represent roughly half of the company's product portfolio.

The pledge also involves a commitment of transparency to American shoppers. Dannon products will begin displaying on-pack labels listing any GMO ingredients by the end of 2016.

Although many regard the move as a step in the right direction towards sustainability and transparency in food production, some farmers perceive it as a threat to their livelihood.

Farmers against transparency and choice

A letter sent on Oct. 17 to Dannon CEO Mariano Lozano, and signed by the leaders of six farming associations, accused the company of attacking the "livelihood and integrity" of American farmers and forcing them to "abandon safe, sustainable farming practices that have enhanced farm productivity over the last 20 years."

The letter also said:

"In our view your pledge amounts to marketing flimflam, pure and simple. It appears to be an attempt to gain lost sales from your competitors by using fear-based marketing and trendy buzzwords, not through any actual improvement in your products. Such disingenuous tactics and marketing puffery are certainly not becoming a company as well-known and respected as Dannon. Neither farmers nor consumers should be used as pawns in food marketing wars."

The farmers complain that by offering consumers a choice, Dannon is requiring them to revert to "old, inefficient and less effective cropping practices."

Dannon responded with a letter of its own, pointing out the company's belief that "sustainable agricultural practices can be achieved with or without the use of GMOs," but that consumers deserve transparency and choices:

"The changes we will make will enable consumers to make everyday choices for themselves, their family and children consistent with their wish for more natural and sustainable eating options, choosing which agricultural and environmental model they favor."

Contrary to the farmers' claims that non-GM crops will require more insecticides, Dannon says that carefully managed sustainable agriculture can reduce both pesticide and herbicide use.

The farming associations are parroting the GMO industry mantra that GM crop yields are higher and are therefore necessary for feeding a hungry world.

GMO agriculture: 20 years of failed promises

This persistent myth has been debunked. GM crops have not been shown to increase yields significantly, and their ability to "feed the world" is a lie.

In fact, GM agricultural practices place an added burden on small farmers throughout the world, partly due to the fact that these crops are grown for large-scale export markets, and not with an eye towards feeding locals or establishing sustainable farming systems.

GMO agriculture started with a lot of big promises, but 20 years later the industry has not only failed to deliver, but has created its own set of unforeseen problems such as the emergence of superweeds and the massive worldwide use of the carcinogenic herbicide glyphosate.

GMO farming mainly benefits the companies that created it. It's a shame that Dannon is being taken to task by farmers who should be supporting diversity in farming practices and consumer choice.

At the very least, the public should be informed and given a choice between purchasing GM and non-GM products.

Ninety percent of Americans favor GMO labeling. In accusing Dannon of stooping to "fear-based marketing" by offering consumers such a choice, the farmers are insulting our intelligence, while wrongly condemning a major food company for doing the right thing.






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