Several factors spurred Ben & Jerry’s to go non-GMO, says Rob Michalak, the company’s global director of social mission. First is a commitment to transparency and consumers’ right to know.
“We’ve had historical support for a consumer’s right to know,” Michalak says. “With GMO labeling legislation being considered in many states, our home state of Vermont included, we thought this was a time to speak out.”
Ben & Jerry’s has long been known for its support of environmental issues, sustainability, and social justice since its founding in 1978 by counter culture heroes Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.
In 1993, the company led the fight for the right to label its products rBGH-free, and more recently has publicly opposed cloned and GMO animals, such as salmon.
Aim to support conventional non-GMO food production
Supporting non-GMO food production was another deciding factor. Michalak sees Ben & Jerry’s in a unique position—between organic and GMO production—where it can stimulate non-GMO demand.
“One of the roles we see our company playing is in the conventional agriculture marketplace,” he says. “We want to play a role in increasing demand for conventional non-GMO ingredients and non-GMO foods and to help create a robust non-GMO agriculture sector.”
Sourcing non-GMO ingredients has always been a goal of Ben & Jerry’s, says Michalak. Then with growing consumer awareness of GMOs and the demand for labeling, particularly as a result of California’s Proposition 37, Ben & Jerry’s decided to make the complete conversion to non-GMO.
“The whole consumer right to know issue increased our momentum. We thought it was important to become non-GMO by origin and let people know that,” Michalak says.
Source: Organic Connections