As the GMO debate continues, and more and more consumers are learning the truth about health and environmental concerns related to genetically modified foods, pro-GMO companies and farmers are feeling the pressure to fight back. The good news is: many of them themselves admit that they are losing.
“We are losing the online debate,” admitted Idaho sugar beet farmer Duane Grant.
The bad news is that the pro-GMO propaganda is about to increase.
One of these “educational” online campaigns is scheduled for this fall, and the organization is spending $4 million to target moms living in three large urban areas to convince them that GMOs are good for their kids and the planet. If successful, their campaign will be expended nationwide and $30 million will be spent.
Named “A Fresh Look,” the campaign is financed by Amalgamated Sugar Co., Betaseed Incorporated, Western Sugar Cooperative and Wyoming Sugar Company, which grow GMO Roundup Ready sugar beets (RRSB) for sugar production. (Amalgamated produces about 20% of U.S. beet sugar).
Nothing says “healthy for my kids” like GMOs and sugar together!
The pro-GMO website camapaign utilizes inspirational images and messages to attempt to convince mothers that GMOs are a smart choice for to their children. There is no independent research cited, and the majority of claims are sourced from the FDA, the USDA, and WHO – all big government organizations who have strong GMO stances in large part because of the overwhelming amount of pro-GMO lobbying they receive.
Biotechnology companies spent $101.4 million on lobbying in 2015; compared to this, $4 million seems like nothing.
U.S. Organic Sugar is Almost Non-Existent
The U.S. beet industry switched to GM technologies as early as 2003; Amalgamated planted first GMO beets in 2006. Duane Grant, chairman of Snake River Sugar Cooperative (which controls Idaho-based Amalgamated Sugar) says that they will never go back to being non-GMO, even in light of a recent consumer backlash.
“This company will go out of business before they go back to conventional,” Grant said.
As more and more candy and other processed food companies have begun switching to non-GMO sugar beets and sugar cane, GMO sugar beet farmers are being left out in the cold. It has been estimated that over 90 percent of sugar beets grown in the U.S. are GMO, but many farmers are being forced to change their ways due to lack of market demand.
Because U.S. sugar makers switched to GMO sugar beets almost two decades ago (even though they were briefly stopped in 2010), there is almost no organic sugar being made in the U.S. – only roughly 2%. The only U.S. company that produces organic sugar is Florida Crystals (made from organic evaporated cane juice). The majority of organic sugar is imported cane sugar.
“I’m not hearing about any big efforts by American producers to go into organic,” said economist Jack Roney. “In developing countries, it’s kind of easier to do organic because they can’t afford herbicides or pesticides.”
A U.S. non-GMO beet sugar is virtually non-existent.
“We do not yet have a beet sugar that is Non-GMO Project verified,” said Megan Westgate, executive director of Non-GMO Project.
As it stands today, it does not look as we will see organic beet sugar in the U.S. The consumers are demanding non-GMO sugar, but the sugar companies are refusing to ever switch.
The pro-GMO propaganda campaign is just another sign that they are losing.
Amalgamated Sugar’s president John McCreedy said the company lost at least 15% of their customers to other organic sweeteners available.
It’s too bad that instead of switching over, they are trying to force their agenda down people’s throats by spending millions on a PR campaign using carefully picked psychological tools, but no independent science to back their claims.
(If you want to avoid GMO beet sugar, avoid buying non-organic foods that contain it, usually under the simple yet deceptive name “sugar” on the back of the package, or buy products with cane sugar instead).