My Twitter feed was lighting up a storm yesterday with the #OrganicMilkNext campaign started by anti-GMO activist group GMOInside. They are going after Starbucks because:
Starbucks is the largest coffee shop chain in the United States. By supporting conventional dairy operations, Starbucks is lending power to a destructive food system fueled by GMOs, factory farms, pesticides, and corporate control that is devastating for human, animal, and environmental health. – GMOInside
These are statements not backed with citations of any kind, never mind science, as per usual. Here is what is the truth regarding their statements:
- GMOs are safe for animals and humans to consume
- If a cow is fed GMOs there is no difference in the milk or meat they produce 
- The majority of farms in Canada and the USA (around 98%) are family owned not “factory farms” under “corporate control” (see: Do Farmers Have Choices?)
- Controlling pests is essential in all of agriculture, pesticide use is not destructive when used responsibly
- Milk is milk! Science says organic milk is just as nutritionally healthy as conventional milk and vice versa 
- All milk is safe and is produced and sold to high-quality standards 
- Quality of care does is not determined by production methods
Organic Doesn’t Equal “Better” (Or Worse)
The thing about this campaign that I disagree with the most is that it is an attack on agriculture as a whole. Whether these activists believe it or not, organic farmers don’t agree with this campaign (I have yet to find one who supports this) and it creates tension and potential animosity in the ag community. I have seen the following things tweeted for reasons why they want organic only served at Starbucks:
— Food Babe (@thefoodbabe) October 5, 2014
Well, where’s the proof? It would be a first for Food Babe to actually provide science-based facts to back up her claims, but the sad thing is people listen to her! Toxic literally means “poison” and I assure you, farmers are not spraying grains with “toxic chemicals”. Toxic to the weeds they are meant to kill? Yes. Toxic to humans and animals? No!
Starbucks is violating human rights by not producing a particular product to our particular preference! #organicmilknext
— Duncan Porter (@skepticated) October 6, 2014
Violating human rights? No, Mr. Porter, this is actually not violating your human rights. Know what’s violating human rights? Things like slavery, discrimination, the right to fair trials, and so on. You have the human right to express your opinion on this issue, but other than that this is a “first world problem” at it’s finest: whining about a preference for a product Starbucks already offers and wanting to completely take away the (arguably) affordable choice of conventional dairy at Starbucks.
Starbucks Already Has Organic Options
I am pro-choice for food options. If this campaign was about getting more organic choices for Starbucks customers—I would be all for it. But this is a campaign trying to get rid of all conventional dairy and replace it with organic, based on fear and not facts. The truth of the matter is, there already are organic choices for Starbucks customers!
- Organic vanilla soy milk
- Organic Serena Blend™ (decaf as well)
- Organic Tazo® Chai Filterbag Tea
I don’t believe Starbucks will cave to activist pressure as they already made a statement in the spring of this year when a similar campaign launched to get Starbucks to go GMO-free. I hope Starbucks sticks to their statement and that they run their company supporting both the conventional and organic farming that they currently do. The agriculture world needs the diversity of various farming methods, it’s not “one-size fits all” farming. Enjoy your choices and I’ll enjoy mine—just don’t try to take them away. Oh, and consider fighting for a cause that matters in the world.
1. If a cow eats GMO corn or soy is there any way to tell or is there any difference in that animal’s meat or milk as opposed to an animal that consumed only organic feed? http://gmoanswers.com/ask/if-cow-eats-gmo-corn-or-soy-there-any-way-tell-or-there-any-difference-animals-meat-or-milk
2. What the difference between organic and conventional milk? http://www.albertamilk.com/ask-dairy-farmer/what-the-difference-between-organic-and-convention/
3. Canadian Quality Milk http://www.dairyfarmers.ca/what-we-do/programs/canadian-quality-milk
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