In an edgy January 5, 2017 piece, Sean Pratt and the Western Producer Magazine have upped the rhetorical ante circulating over the October 17, 2016 letter from five major farm groups and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) to Dannon-USA CEO, Mariano Lozano.
The letter criticizes Dannon-USA for its pledge to source non-GMO ingredients and milk from cows fed non-GMO feed for three of its major yogurt brands — Dannon, Danimals, and Oikos. View the full Dannon pledge here.
Collectively, these three brands represent about 1/2 of Dannon’s yogurt production. Organic Stonyfield yogurt, also a Dannon company, is 100% non-GMO, and additionally accounts for a major portion of the company’s yogurt volume.
Dannon-USA’s response came the very same day, via a press release and statement. Dannon’s response corrects misinformation in the letter organized by the USRFA, and states the reasons for its pledge to move more of its yogurt production to non-GMO ingredients and animal feed.
The reasons include responding to consumer demand and helping farmers back off the pesticide treadmill they have been forced onto by the spread of weeds resistant to glyphosate and insects resistant to the Bt toxins in Bt-GMO corn (for more, see several items posted in the Hygeia Analytics’ Impacts of GE Crops on Pesticide Use page).
Pratt’s choice of language, and the content of his story, is surprising. It begins — “Farmers and food companies have dropped the gloves in the debate over genetically modified food.” (A curious lead, given no food companies signed the October 17th letter).
Randy Mooney, the chair of the U.S. National Milk Producers Federation, is quoted in the story acknowledging that: “This [no GMO feed for dairy cows] was a tipping point” in galvanizing an aggressive response to the Dannon pledge from the U.S. Milk Producers Federation.
The Federation’s V-P for Communications, Chris Galen, is quoted in Pratt’s story saying: “This [the Dannon pledge’s focus on non-GE dairy cow feed] is entirely different and a more far-reaching step than just a focus on biotech ingredients in the yogurt itself.”
It remains to be seen whether, and what sort of a tipping point might be in the cards during 2017, but a change in Dannon’s pledge like that advocated by the USFRA will almost certainly not be among them.
Source: AgWired, January 9, 2017. Available online at http://agwired.com/2016/10/19/dannon-responds-to-ag-groups-concerns/