In a recent Bloomberg News interview, Stonyfield Chairman and yogurt honcho Gary Hirshberg perfectly illustrated the hypocrisy of those calling for warning labels on food products containing genetically improved foods, or GMOs.
In the segment, Hirshberg grumbles about how food products should carry GMO labels in the interest of transparency—and then the interviewer completely turned the tables on him. Around five minutes into the interview, the anchor says, “Gary I have to challenge you on one point . . . . why not go for extreme transparency on your own products, like natural flavors for example?” The question visibly stumped Hirshenberg, who was fumbling to craft a response.
So let’s get this straight: Hirshberg wants others to be transparent about ingredients that Stonyfield doesn’t use, but he doesn’t demand the same level of transparency from his company. Even worse, Hirshenberg attempted to dodge the question by hiding behind the FDA’s guidelines. Hirshenberg should take note that this is the same FDA that has declared GMOs safe.
As the Genetic Literacy Project notes:
He’s strident about labeling genetically engineered ingredients and underwrites groups like Just Label It, Only Organic and Food Policy Action yet defends his own lack of transparency. He scoffs at those who insist GMO labels would impose an undue burden and cost, but laments the onerous task of defining one of his company’s most widely-used ingredients.
“If you list the ingredients in natural flavors, I would have to have another couple pages,” Hirshberg said, laughing off the question. Then perhaps catching his own hypocrisy, he rebounded with, “but we’re all for it.”
Uh-huh. We won’t hold our breath waiting for Hirshberg to change his labels.