Ben & Jerry’s and Measure 92: If You Can’t Define “Organism,” You Can’t Logically Oppose GMOs
It may not seem like it, but I don’t go searching for anti-GMO sentiment on the internet to fuel my wrath. I like the rare occasions when I’m not forced to write. I enjoy reading and playing with my kids, or kicking back and conversing with my husband over a leisurely glass of wine. Still, when this video posted on October 10th was brought to my attention, I couldn’t let it slide. As much as I hate promoting anything in favor of Oregon’s mandatory GMO-labeling initiative, I urge you to take a moment to watch. I promise, I’ll explain why:
I’ll give Ben & Jerry’s this much – their PR/marketing people are brilliant. They are pro-labeling and anti-GMO; this is an unequivocally unscientific stance. GM technology is inherently safe. While anti-GM masses tout the so-called “right to know,” natural-food industry giants understand that labeling benefits Big Organic. After all, labeling will only serve to stigmatize safe and beneficial technologies, increase food costs, and effectively lead to dwindling demand and potential ban of all GMOs. Make no mistakes: there are a lot of large pockets that will only deepen if labeling initiatives are passed. Feel free to read some of my posts for detailed justifications.
While their stance has no scientific basis, it’s an excellent marketing ploy to attract the type of consumer that buys into the “natural is better” fallacy. Still, Ben & Jerry’s is an extraordinarily savvy company. Their product is ice cream, an innately unhealthy, high-fat, high-sugar food. So they make fun of themselves first in order to deflect opposition. Most viewers who see through so-called “right to know” motives might think, “A leader of the measure 92 bandwagon is Ben & Jerry’s, an unhealthy ‘munchie’ company. Most of the followers of this pied piper-esque movement don’t even really know why they want labels.”
To be fair, the video is hilarious and well-written. In true hipster fashion, it preemptively and ironically mocks its own grass-roots, uninformed, greenwashed mob of followers claiming a right to know what’s in its processed snacks. The video will likely go viral, and lots of people will see the call to action at the end to support the labeling initiative. It’s a disgustingly brilliant ploy.
Readers, I should have watched the video, been momentarily annoyed, and proceeded with my day. Alas, I decided to click on the Ben & Jerry’s GMO information site. This is what got my blood boiling enough to write this rant. They define GMO as follows:
“Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are organisms that have had their genetic makeup (DNA) altered through genetic engineering in a way that does not occur in nature or through traditional cross-breeding methods. And GMOs aren’t just altered organisms; they can be plants, vegetables or even things like fish.”
I had to re-read this several times to make sure my eyes didn’t deceive me. Thankfully, my eyes and brain are still functioning just fine. The problem is, Ben & Jerry’s doesn’t know the definition of the word “organism.” Readers, friends, followers, hold me back. I don’t usually get so viscerally annoyed that I want to punch something, but I’m getting there. Plants, vegetables and fish are all organisms. People who don’t know what an “organism” is have no right to spout drivel on a pro-GMO labeling initiative.
As I always say, genetic engineering is a set of tools. It’s not a product, it’s not a company, it’s not a malicious, greedy CEO in a power-suit. These technologies aren’t only wielded by the Monsantos and the Dows of the world, but also scientists and researchers at academic institutions, small-businesses, and local government sub-agencies. GM food is inherently safe. We must subdue the mob-with-pitchforks (or munchies?) mentality, and nourish rather than stunt progress.
While I feel the urge, I’m not going to punch anything. Rather, here’s my call to action. Doing any of the following will appease my exasperation. More importantly, it will help spread the message that mandatory GMO labeling will only stigmatize a technology that is inherently safe, has the potential to nourish the malnourished, and sustain the earth’s growing population with the finite resources at hand:
- Share this blog post with all of your social media followers.
- Tweet with hashtag #NoOn92 with your reasons why mandatory labeling is an unscientific, unsubstantiated initiative.
- Down vote the You Tube video embedded in this post.
- I hate to say this, because it’s delicious, and I’ve never called for a boycott: Don’t purchase Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. There are plenty of other scrumptious ice creams to indulge in, whether or not you have a case of the munchies.
Update from the author posted at 3:00 pm CST on 10/13/14: It appears that Ben & Jerry’s has removed the incorrect definition of the word “organism.” I commend them for correcting their mistake. After all, while they still promote misinformation and harmful labeling initiatives, at least Ben & Jerry’s is no longer disseminating the idea that plants and fish aren’t organisms! I’m glad I got a screen shot to prove my point: