Stonyfield Yogurt, the leading U.S. organic yogurt producer, has come under scrutiny for a new video advertisement it released earlier this week.
The video dives into the issue of knowing what’s in your food, particularly genetically modified organisms (GMOs), as explained by a group of concerned and, according to the video’s critics, misinformed young school girls.
“Hundreds of viewers swiftly lambasted the advert for perpetuating false ideas about agriculture and ‘using children to support fear-mongering’,” notes Kavin Senpathy in Forbes.
The yogurt manufacturer was criticized for employing the children to spread “unsubstantiated claims,” including claims about fish genes being added to tomatoes. While that GMO practice was employed in developing a tomato, it was never brought to market and there are currently no GMO tomatoes in the food supply chain.
Stonyfield responded to the backlash within a few hours of the ad release, calling its critics “trolls” while acknowledging that some of the comments came from “concerned people with reasonable and well-intended questions.” It pointed consumers to several links on its website, including the Just Label It foundation, founded by Stonyfield’s co-founder Gary Hirshberg.
“It’s true that objections to genetic engineering aren’t ‘anti-science’—there are justified socio-economic anxieties underlying opposition to ‘GMOs,’ including the transformation of lifeforms into intellectual property, environmental and health concerns, and the power dynamics that keep large corporations in control of our food system,” writes Senpathy. “But the concerns outlined in Stonyfield’s video are ill-informed.”
Filmmaker Natalie Newell also criticized the ad in a blog post. “If you want to talk about GMOs, awesome. Find experts (and there’s no shortage of folks who can talk on genetic modification and biotechnology) to define the term. But do not use children,” she wrote. “Don’t use children to perpetuate these myths and further demonize biotechnology, all in the name of selling your yogurt pouches.”
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