The anti-genetically modified food movement is now looking to scare the public from eating Valentine’s Day candy. The group GMO Inside launched a campaign against Hersey and Mars to force them to label GM products or eliminate them.
Hershey and Mars comprise approximately 70 percent of the U.S. chocolate market. Although chocolate is not genetically modified, many of the ingredients used such as the sugar is made from GM sugar beets or corn syrup, according to John Roulac, co-chairman, GMO Inside.
The campaign is calling for the public to use social media, e-mails and phone calls to pressure these companies into eliminating or labeling GM ingredients.
These groups’ strategy reminds me of when the Center for Science in the Public Interest launched its campaign against movie theater popcorn, Chinese food and other similar foods. At some point, CSPI jumped the shark. The public stopped taking them seriously and recognized them—not as a credible science-based organization—as an agenda-driven group designed to criticize people’s food choices. Groups like GMO Inside and others may have jumped the shark with this latest campaign. Attacking Valentine’s Day candy may be just too much for the public to bear and accept.
GMO Inside’s campaign against candy makers is only a small part of a larger strategy to target large food manufacturers and pressure them into labeling GM foods or eliminate them. The strategy seems to be ramping up after California’s Prop 37 was defeated, which would have required food manufacturers to label GM ingredients. After that bill failed, anti-GM groups are searching for any way to either get legislation on the ballot in other states with the goal of eventually having a nationwide policy of labeling GMOs or to pressure food manufacturers through the public to label their products.
Earlier this year, GMO Inside launched a similar campaign against cereal makers General Mills and Kellogg. In both campaigns, GMO Inside has tried to paint these companies as hiding information by tying the companies to donations they made to defeat Prop 37 in California.
Both Kellogg and General Mills defended their positions publically by stating that world organizations have deemed GMOs to be safe and that they continue to follow the science, regulations and consumers’ preferences.
These groups’ tactics are tantamount to bullying. In today’s bully-sensitive culture, this tactic seems crass and desperate. Without any specific, credible science to back up their claims, the only strategy they have left is bullying and name calling. And that’s not a very loving way to change people’s minds, especially on a day designed to foster love and kindness.