Back in April, yogurt giant The Dannon Company announced plans to use more natural, nonsynthetic ingredients that do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This move--to take place over a 3 year time span--was to apply to the company’s Dannon, Oikos and Danimals branded products. This week, Dannon, along with other unnamed companies, has been the recipient of industry criticism for the announcement made almost 6 months ago.
A number of agricultural groups have something to say about Dannon’s decision to phase out GMO ingredients, ultimately calling the move “marketing puffery”. A letter was issued this week by the American Farm Bureau Federation. It is also signed by the American Soybean Association, the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. The letter claims that Dannon’s effort “appears to be an attempt to gain lost sales from your competitors by using fear-based marketing and trendy buzzwords.” Moves made by Dannon and other food companies looking to eliminate GMOs would “force farmers to abandon safe, sustainable farming practices that have enhanced farm productivity over the last 20 years while greatly reducing the carbon footprint of American agriculture,” says the letter.
The six groups maintain that food companies who want to meet sustainability goals and reduce their use of natural resources cannot do so successfully “without the use of modern agricultural practices”.
In response, Dannon’s CEO Mariano Lozano says the letter was a surprise, describing it as “divisive and misinformed”.
The agricultural groups do not show any signs of backing down, concluding their letter by stating, “When food companies directly mislead consumers, as has been done in this example with Dannon, individual farmers as well as farm organizations will continue to assertively defend our critical technologies.”