For the second installment of #KavinCantEven, I bring you the three-year-long debacle that keeps going and going. The Facebook and Change.org campaign to remove GMO ingredients from Girl Scout cookies has been using Girl Scout Alicia Serratos for the past few years as a prop to persuade the organization to change the formulation of its annual, beloved treats. I say she’s a prop because, upon watching a short YouTube video entitled, “Alicia’s request to remove GMOs from Girl Scout cookies,” most of my readers would likely agree that she was coached heavily by her mother. If you have two-and-a-half minutes, take a gander here. Since the campaign went viral, a Change.org petition emblazoned with little Alicia’s image has gotten nearly 40,000 signatures.
Despite ongoing pressure from organizations like Natural News jumping on this campaign’s bandwagon, I was thrilled to learn that the Girl Scouts organization has stood with science. As of the publication of this piece, its FAQ page answers the question, “Are there GMOs in Girl Scout Cookies?” as follows:
“At the current time, there are genetically modified agricultural crops (GMOs) in Girl Scout Cookies. Our bakers determine whether to use GMOs in Girl Scout Cookies based on a range of market-related factors and depending on the specific cookie recipe.
Girl Scouts recognizes that many people have concerns regarding GMO ingredients, and we monitor member and consumer opinion on this matter. It is important to note that there is worldwide scientific support for the safety of currently commercialized ingredients derived from genetically modified agricultural crops. The World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the American Medical Association all share this assessment. In addition, in the future, GMOs may offer a way to help feed an ever-increasing world population.”
For more details on their science-based and ethical stances, see here and here. After this heartening news, I thought, you know what? I CAN EVEN. My heart swelled with pride in one of America’s most beloved organizations. GSUSA is LGBT-inclusive, and supports and promotes STEM education for girls, both positions I can stand behind. To find out that GSUSA is unwavering in resisting pressure to forgo science was icing on the cake, or cookie in this case. Visions of cookies galore have been dancing in my head ever since, and I can’t wait for my neighborhood Girl Scouts to come knocking. I plan to buy Peanut Butter Patties for me, a few boxes of my husband’s favorite Thin Mints, and probably at least a couple boxes each of the rest because, um, my kids will probably like them all. Yes, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Yet on January 31st, even in the face of this laudable, evidence-based position, the “Remove GMOs From Girl Scout Cookies” Facebook page posted this:
I can’t. This is sheer exploitation of an adorable, dimple-cheeked child to push an agenda. She was six years old when the campaign started. If her own mother and the adult backers of this movement don’t understand that GMO ingredients in cookies are safe, we cannot expect a now 8-year-old child to understand the relevant scientific concepts. Guess what guys, I’m no chemist, but I understand that there’s no meaningful difference between GM beet sugar (found in GS cookies) and cane sugar. Do I expect my kids to understand it? No, I just do my best too teach them about the world, and keep them well-fed, healthy, and relatively happy. Could I get my daughter to pose for pictures holding signs and parroting words I ask her to say? Absolutely. And it would be cute and probably compelling.
I feel for this little girl. She has years of school to attend, and science classes to take. By indoctrinating her into the anti-GMO camp, the adults using her to push their agenda may be teaching her to embrace hype and fear-mongering rather than scientific consensus. By littering the internet with her image, those behind this campaign are coloring the way she’ll be perceived for years to come, without her consent.
I just can’t. My kids are pretty damn adorable, but I would never even consider using them as props to accessorize my messages. I’ve written about my vehement disapproval of using children as propaganda symbols, and this is no different.
Call to action
Readers, please help turn my can’t even into a can by doing any or all of the following:
- Continue sharing evidence-based information surrounding biotech with your friends and family
- Check out this fun post at Biology Fortified, “Celebrate cookies and science”
- Sign the Change.org petition to show support to the Girl Scouts for its science-based stance
- Buy Girl Scout cookies
- Join the conversation about GMOs on social media (my Facebook page always welcomes participation from all points of view.)
Note: If you share this piece, please use hashtag #kavincanteven. Thanks!
Featured image © 2015 Kavin Senapathy