Market News & Headlines >> Farm Groups Blast Dannon

A coalition of six major farm groups blasted The Dannon Company on Monday for marketing new products made without ingredients containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as being supportive of sustainable agriculture. 

In a letter to The Dannon Company President and CEO Mariano Lozano, the groups charged that the recently released “Dannon Pledge” is misleading to consumers. “Though touted with great fanfare as a corporate commitment to sustainability and environmental improvement, in reality, the Dannon Pledge amounts to a major step backward in truly sustainable food production,” the groups said. 

“Under the guise of providing consumers more choices, your pledge would force farmers to abandon safe, sustainable farming practices that have enhanced farm productivity over the last 20 years while greatly reducing the carbon footprint of American agriculture,” added the groups, which included the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association, the National Milk Producers Federation, the American Sugarbeet Growers Association and the US. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. 

A number of companies have announced plans to remove genetically modified ingredients from some of their products. However, The Dannon Company, the U.S. subsidiary of Danone SA, took things to another level, announcing last spring that it would convert all of the feed consumed by cows that produce milk for its flagship brands (Dannon Yogurt, Danimals and Oikos Greek Yogurt) to non-GM by the end of 2018, in addition to switching to other non-GMO ingredients. 

Dannon, in a news release responding to the groups’ criticism called their letter divisive and misinformed”. Dannon said that it believes currently approved GMO’s are safe, and said it was only responding to what it believed is “a growing consumer preference for non-GMO ingredients and food in the U.S. The company also touted its efforts to work with its "farmer partners" to improve sustainable agriculture practices.