Many companies have been called out for jumping on the “non-GMO” marketing bandwagon. From Triscuit to Hunt’s, Chipotle to Stonyfield, more and more consumers are refusing to buy into the misinformation of this label. The Non-GMO Project spreads point-blank lies and rumors about modern agriculture to sell products, while literally everything we eat has been modified by humans in some way. It doesn’t matter what label a food product carries — GMO, organic, etc. — they can all be bred in a laboratory. And they are all safe. So “GMO” is somewhat scientifically meaningless, but technically “GMO” crops (bred with modern breeding techniques like transgenesis) such as cotton, soy, corn, sugar beets, and others have benefits to mankind and the environment. If modern seeds can allow farmers to grow more crop on less land while using fewer and safer pesticides and tillage, they are going to take advantage of that.
Enter A&C Liquid Assets vs. Smirnoff. A&C Liquid Assets is a liquor store in Hoxie, Kansas, and the owners, Allison and Cole, are also farmers. When Smirnoff made an announcement they were “non-GMO,” Allison and Cole made the decision to pull all Smirnoff products off of their shelves. I had a call with them to discuss this decision.
“We will not be bullied,” Allison says. “It’s literally a slap in our face.”
About 90 percent of the people in this area of Kansas work in the ag business, so they especially want to stand for farmers. Allison wants to come together and support the community, and most people really do not realize just how hard it is to farm. She’s currently working with the Smirnoff distributor to have them buy the product back.
There is a silver lining here, though. The industry changes quickly, and this inspires them to give an opportunity to smaller local producers to get their products on the shelves. Soon they’ll be carrying Milo and Most Wanted brand liquors, which come from local farms. Bonus: They’re in the same price point as the Smirnoff-brand giants.
Morally and ethically, Allison knows she can’t sell Smirnoff. People only really know it because it’s on TV, but now they have a better opportunity to tell the story of other brands.
In business you have to take risks, and fortunately people are taking a stand against the fake fearmongering behind “non-GMO.” Rumor has it, some other bars and restaurants are also dumping out their Smirnoff products. No one ever said liquor was good for you, so creating a false health halo based on a plant breeding method is just silly. GMOs do great things for farmers and the environment so bravo to companies like theirs that make this decision.
Vote with your dollars. Social media campaigns and Facebook groups such as The Banned Consumer create calls to action to make an impact. Comments, emails, and phone calls to brands can have a difference, so hopefully other people and companies will take the same stand as A&C Liquid Assets. If you’re ever in Western Kansas off I-70, make sure to pay them a visit and say thank you for supporting farmers and science in modern agriculture.
Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is an Iowa-based farmer, public speaker, and writer, who lives and works with her boyfriend on their farm, which consists of row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.