Saturday, November 19, 2016

No to Dannon

I am officially not eating Dannon Yogurt or Oikos Greek Yogurt. Did you even eat yogurt before this you ask? Yes, occasionally (once or twice a year). Why the need for this boycott would be the next logical question. I am boycotting Dannon because they put profit ahead of logic and sound science.

It seems as though Dannon has put forth a pledge of “transparency” to their customers. As a part of this pledge they have committed to not using any GMO products or any milk from cows fed GMO products in their yogurt. They are doing all of this under the guise of sustainable agriculture. This is one of the most misleading and ludicrous statements I have ever seen.

This statement is so false that Dannon has issued a second statement, in response to a stern letter from ag groups, stating that they know GMO crops are safe and sustainable but they are bowing to consumer pressure. On that note, I really doubt that most consumers really care. I suspect that the “consumers” they have heard from are really anti-GMO activists and I doubt if they account for even a percent of Dannon or Oikos consumers. They are loud and vocal and seem to have Dannon’s ear.

What really gets my blood boiling is the idea that farming with GMO crops is not sustainable ag. I would argue with you that farming with GMO crops is the very definition of sustainable agriculture. We utilize GMO crops on our farm and our ultimate goal is to be sustainable. GMO crops have allowed us to become completely no-till and stay that way for the past several years. It is one of the best changes (and one of the most sustainably minded changes) we have ever made.

GMO crops have allowed farmers to use fewer inputs and produce more food. It is no secret that in 2014 we used 51 million fewer acres of farmland to produce more the same amount of food. That is equivalent to all the farm ground in Missouri and Iowa. I find it incredible that GMO crops have allowed us to increase production by that much.

We all know that GMO crops also allow us to use less fuel, fertilizer and pesticides. Because of GMO advances I cannot remember the last time we sprayed an insecticide on our crops. We are conserving more soil while keeping a great deal of the sediment out of our rivers, lakes and reservoirs. GMO crops help keep our air cleaner with less wind erosion. All of this while producing more food and higher quality grains on fewer acres. That, my friends, is the very definition of sustainable ag in my mind.

Does that mean farmers who chose to be organic or non-GMO are not sustainable? No, I truly believe that all farmers strive to be sustainable no matter what production method they use. I do not know of a single farmer who does not worry about the future and hopes to hand down a farm to the next generation that is better than when they started. Each generation of farmers have passed along lands that were more healthy and productive than the past generation and I do not see that ever ending, no matter what a yogurt company might say.

One could make the argument that they are just doing what their customers want. I still believe that the vast majority are happy with the product and the vocal critics are a very, very small minority. I also truly believe that if they spent as much time trying to help educate their customers about how sustainable agriculture really is and how GMO crops do this while not posing any kind of a threat to consumers or the environment they would not have to make this pledge.

Instead it is more trendy and easier to market this pledge of “transparency” even though they know it is not the truth. This lazy marketing is something that will harm all of agriculture and we must make our voices heard. It is important that we contact Dannon and let them know how much of a mistake this is. Of course we can also let them know through the cash register too.

It is also important to remember that a great deal of the responsibility about educating the public still falls to each of us as ag producers. We need to let all of our friends and family know just how important GMO crops are to the long term sustainability of agriculture. Because in the end, all agriculture strives to be sustainable and to preserve and protect our environment all while continuing to produce more and better food and yes, that even includes yogurt.

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