Agricultural organizations are doubling down on their defense of biotechnology as sustainable, after challenging Dannon for its pledge to eliminate genetically-modified ingredients from some products, citing that it improves sustainability.
“There comes a time when we as farmers and ranchers need to step up and challenge when companies misinform consumers,” said U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance CEO Randy Krotz on a press call this morning to announce plans for a “Straight Talk” campaign to engage the food industry in a dialogue on sustainable agriculture production.
While many foods are being marketed as non-GMO, Dannon was a tipping point for the industry because their pledge indicated that GMO crops were less sustainable that non-GMO crops. “It’s really about sustainability – it’s not about non-GMO or GMO, we can grow whatever the customer wants,” said USFRA chair Nancy Kavazanjian of Wisconsin. “To equate a modern technology that we use that makes us more sustainable and to try and say it makes us less sustainable – that was the point where we had to say something.”
“When you look at the product that Dannon is talking about putting on the shelf…there’s only two differences,” said National Milk Producers Federation chairman Randy Mooney of Missouri. “One is the writing on the carton and the other is the price. If agriculture goes back 20 years, food prices in this country are going to go up.”
University of Arkansas Office for Sustainability Executive Director Dr. Marty Matlock discussed how food biotechnology has helped improve agricultural sustainability since 1980, citing statistics on corn and soybeans from the Field to Market® 2012 Environmental and Socioeconomic Indicators Report. “U.S. agriculture is the most efficient production system in the world,” said Matlock. “Efficiency means reducing inputs and reducing impacts.”
USFRA and NMPF also launched an on-line dialogue about the topic today with the hashtag #AgTechTalk.
Listen to comments from Kavazanjian, Matlock, Mooney and Krotz here: Ag Groups Defend GMO Sustainability
Dialogue with reporters: USFRA/NMPF #AgTechTalk
Meanwhile, Dannon also doubled down on its decision to “evolve the Dannon, Danimals and Oikos brands to be made with non-GMO ingredients,” holding a meeting with farmer partners this week to “further develop alternative models of dairy supply.”
“We believe it is possible to combine non-GMO crops and sustainable agriculture building on farmers’ expertise and practices, always being mindful about state-of-the-art agronomic science,” said Mariano Lozano, CEO of The Dannon Company, at the same time noting that some Dannon products “will continue to be made with GMO ingredients, as it is our belief that the currently approved GMOs are safe.”