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Farm Babe: Why Stonyfield is one of the world’s worst food companies

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By now you may have heard about Stonyfield Organic’s latest marketing ploys. They’ve decided to exploit children to scare people about perfectly healthy and safe conventional foods and GMOs. In the video, little girls talk about how “monstrous” they are and how fish genes go into tomatoes. They go on to say how they have the right to know what is in their food.

The public was not impressed. Nor is this information accurate. And doesn’t the “right to know” require a responsibility to learn? Ask any scientist or commercial farmer, everything we eat has had their genes modified by humans, and there are no commercially available GMO tomatoes, among many other crops. Scaring people about science is sad, because our entire world revolves around scientific advancements to make it a better place. Sharing genes with something doesn’t make it weird or scary. In fact, humans share about 50 percent to 60 percent of the same DNA as a banana. Sound weird? That’s why STEM and science education are so important.

Meanwhile, why let facts get in the way of a good fearmongering marketing campaign? Who needs science? While these last two sentences ooze with sarcasm, Stonyfield’s response unfortunately does not. Rather than listen to their customers and the fact that the general public is not happy with their sleazy campaign, they doubled down, claiming that anyone that disagrees with them is a “troll.” 

Not a good way to earn the business of your customers. (Editor’s note: The post below was deleted by Stonyfield on Monday afternoon.)

Look at the “sources” of their “information” in their post, where they essentially cite themselves. The Environmental Working Group is an organic industry-sponsored lobbyist group where the founder of Stonyfield, Gary Hirshberg, has his wife sit on the board of directors. They, too, scare people by spreading misinformation about agriculture, citing the “dirty dozen” list. It’s also funny, because none of these organizations are honest with consumers and tell them that yes … organic farming uses pesticides too! Their other sources — Just Label It and Only Organic — are also organic industry-sponsored activist groups with an agenda, founded and funded by Hirshberg. Huge conflict of interest, sharing incorrect info all the way to the bank.

On the above post, Stonyfield straight up says GMOs are not proven harmful to human health. Good. They’re not. They then resort to a leading myth that GMOs “require” the use of “toxic” herbicides. Just because a farmer grows a GMO crop doesn’t mean we are “required” to use anything. GMOs do allow us as farmers though to use less chemical pesticides (no more insecticides) and safer herbicides. Has the use of glyphosate gone up in agriculture? Absolutely! That’s because it’s incredibly low in toxicity, which is why it’s so popular. Older, harsher herbicides of decades past have been replaced with this safer alternative. And no, glyphosate is not a carcinogen, which has been debunked over and over again.

I left a comment on their Facebook page which talked about how we only spray glyphosate on our fields two days a year at a rate of 14 to 22 ounces per acre. (This product can also be used on non-GMO crops, by the way) That’s less than two beer cans worth over an area of land the size of a football field. I politely explained how safe our food supply is, and I was banned. Stonyfield will no longer allow me to comment on their social media. Facts be damned, I guess — why talk to real commercial farmers about farming? Considering their post above says they welcome conversation and appreciate fact-based debate, I had to make a meme.

I’m not alone. Farmers, biochemists, university professors and scientists, the list goes on — all silenced. Check out the growing number of members in the Banned By Stonyfield Facebook group and #SilencedByStonyfield or #BannedByStonyfield social media hashtags.

This is just current events, but I could write a novel on the number of shady things Stonyfield has done to outright lie to consumers, throwing hard working farmers under the bus and stooping to disgusting levels in attempts to sell their products. As I’ve previously mentioned here, the organic industry spends nearly $3 billion a year to lead with fear as an industry to sell their products. “Organic” and “natural” is a $350 billion business, and there are 330 different organizations out there funded by these corporations to support the anti-GMO movement. Stonyfield has funded numerous other campaigns, from Just Label It to US Right To Know to the Organic Consumers Association to the Non-GMO Project, and more.

Follow the money — it doesn’t end there. Stonyfield has also had their hands in movies like “Food, Inc” that spread point blank lies about modern farming. Through the USRTK group, they have also famously harassed outspoken biotech advocates and university professors like Dr. Kevin Folta from University of Florida.

Stonyfield wants nothing more than to make people believe that if you aren’t buying their products, you are poisoning your families. Twenty-five years’ worth of research into the organic marketing report eye-openingly shows that fear sells and they know it, by targeting vulnerable new parents to push an agenda. There is a lot of money to be made, and they keep burying their heads further and further into the sand, while completely ignoring their customers and the scientific community that what they’re doing is wrong.

Look, I get it. They’re trying to make a living and sell a product. But what I think really bothers me most about this is that the farmers behind Stonyfield dairy products are also trying to make a living, and I bet they’re wonderful people. Throughout my years as an agricultural advocate I have had many organic farmers come forward and say they enjoy being an organic dairy but are disappointed with the way their products are marketed. Also, sometimes the premiums they are promised don’t always come through, and there is a lot of paperwork involved to be organic. You can’t blame the farmers for choosing to go organic. But, that doesn’t mean that they want to sling mud unethically or immorally at their competitors.

While this puts farmers themselves into uncomfortable situations, the number of people catching on and choosing to boycott organic products is growing. So, will this negatively affect these organic dairy farmers? Likely, yes. So, if Stonyfield wants to grow their business, then lying, funding propaganda films, harassing public scientists, banning hundreds of intelligent people for correcting their lies, scaring consumers, ignoring scientific consensus, using deception, and exploitation is not the way to go about achieving this goal.

 

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.

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