Boycotting Pro-GMO Organic Brands Not the Way

Boycotting organic brands is a self-defeating initiative.

Boycotting organic brands is a self-defeating initiative. Photo by Courtesy Flickr/Natalie Maynor

A list going around the Internet calls for consumers to boycott the top organic brands owned by 10 parent companies that donated to defeat Prop 37, the California Right to Know GMO labeling initiative.

While I share the frustration of consumers being denied honest labeling of the food they eat by corporations that apparently value the dollar over human health, safety or even consumer rights, I don't think this is the way to go.

It's certainly a slap in the face of consumers who buy organic. It's insulting to know that the corporations that manufacture and sell the organic brands they buy are, at the same time, undermining labeling of food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that is banned under the rules governing organic products. Such labeling is already required by most of the industrialized world.

The boycott is backed by the Organic Consumers Organization—a group I support—but I disagree with the boycott.

It may be galling that longtime consumers of, say, Horizon organic soy milk or Kashi organic cereals are supporting companies that donated a total of $46 million in a cynical disinformation campaign to defeat a law to simply state if a product contains GMO.

But consider what boycotting those brands might mean.

Will it promote organic? Or other organic products? Or organic growers? Or the companies that sell organics? Hardly. Rather, it will simply retard market share for organics. This will, in turn, feed the idea that organics isn't growing as a consumer market, which it is. And it could undermine those who are actually growing organically and the stores that carry these organic brands.

Moreover, it accelerates the trend away from small growers to Big Ag corporations that can afford a smaller profit margin as part of a mix of organic and nonorganic products. In other words, a boycott plays into the hands of those who are being boycotted: the very corporations that sell both organic and nonorganic products. They win either way while it penalizes those who solely sell organic products, grow organics and buy organics. Consumers do hold the key, however. By demanding local and organic, they are supporting organic where it's produced and the small, local growers who need the consumer support. By demanding labeling of GMO from local, state and federal politicians, voters can exert their clout in local, state and national elections.

The GMO labeling fight hasn't ended. The truth will out. GMO not only will be labeled in the United States eventually, but once buyers know the full environmental dangers and potential health and safety effects, it will probably be banned outright or so tightly regulated as to be treated as the potentially eco-catastrophic activity it is.

Major corporate backers of defeating the GMO labeling initiative and the organic products they sell:

• PepsiCo (Donated $2.5M): Naked Juice, Tostito's Organic, Tropicana Organic

• Kraft (Donated $2M): Boca Burgers and Back to Nature

• Coca-Cola (Donated $1.7M): Honest Tea, Odwalla

• General Mills (Donated $1.2M):  Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm, Larabar

• Safeway (Member of Grocery Manufacturers Association, which donated $2M): "O" Organics

• Dean Foods (Donated $254k): Horizon, Silk, White Wave

• Kellogg's (Donated $791k): Kashi, Bear Naked, Morningstar Farms, Gardenburger

• Con-Agra (Donated $1.2M): Orville Redenbacher's Organic, Hunt's Organic, Lightlife, Alexia

• Smucker's (Donated $555k): R.W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organic

• Unilever (Donated $467k): Ben & Jerry's

Source: Organic Consumers Association

Comments

El3737 1 year, 6 months ago

Is the author assuming I'd buy GMOs if I don't buy organics supplied by the killers of Prop 37? NOT A CHANCE! I still buy ALL organic--but I don't give one cent to the food mutilators or their food industry backers. Frankly, I found it hard to understand what the author is about in this article...but I'm glad we all want to see the END of GMOs!

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lilyrhoads 1 year, 6 months ago

i agree with you completely! i wrote about it on my blog and just commented the link to it.

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MandyR 1 year, 6 months ago

Question--are you local here in Jackson? If so, which brands do you buy that are not on this list that are available here? I do buy my produce at Rainbow whenever possible, assuming I'm supporting local food, but as for the things that come in boxes and jars...this list is overwhelming. I feel at a loss. I know Amy's and Eden are independent and buy from them whenever I can. Any others?

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lilyrhoads 1 year, 6 months ago

i disagree completely with this logic. i explained it on my blog, here. the just of what i wrote is: " how can our choice not to support the fakers of organic only hurt the real organic people? they only win if we buy their products, organic or non organic. so we need to find the people doing it right, we need to find the small, local, organic, biodynamic, permaculture, community oriented, cooperative, and loving business and companies that want to help heal the body of the earth by feeding our bodies with good, clean and fair food. "

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