What is in this article?:
- The Green Grocer's viral photo sparks Kashi GMO controversy
- Should retailers be responsible for policing GMOs?
After its photo went viral this week, The Green Grocer proves that independent retailers are powerhouses for change in the food system. But are the GMO allegations against Kashi true—and more important, how can industry reassure consumers about the organic label?
The Green Grocer, an independent natural retailer located in Portsmouth, R.I., unexpectedly created a swirl of anti-GMO activity on the Internet this week—most of it targeted directly at Kellogg's-owned Kashi Company.
The Green Grocer owner John Wood was inspired by an Oct. 2011 "Cereal Crimes" report [PDF] from The Cornucopia Institute, which was sent to him by a Nature's Path sales representative. As a result, the grocery store removed Kashi, Barbara's Bakery, Peace Cereal and Bear Naked cereals and granolas from its shelves earlier this year and posted yellow signs on its shelves explaining the products' absence, such as the one shown above:
"You might be wondering where your favorite Kashi granola bars have gone. It has recently come to our attention that 100% of the soy used in Kashi is Genetically Modified and that when the USDA tested the grains used there were found to be pesticides that are known carcinogens and hormone disruptors."
GrandyOats Granola, a Maine-based organic granola company stocked by the The Green Grocer, shared photos showing its products still on the shelves. Since then, the photos have gone viral, with upwards of 11,000 shares across Facebook accounts, including nearly 300 comments on The Green Grocer's Facebook page.
The power of the small, independent retailer as a catalyst for healthy change is not to be underestimated.
Kashi's GMO stance
Significant consumer backlash unfolded on Kashi's Facebook page, prompting the company to temporarily suspend calls on its consumer call-in line on April 25. Kashi responded that day with a video posted to Facebook. "The information circulating is scientifically inaccurate and misleading because it was not based on testing of actual Kashi products, but was instead general U.S. data," said Keegan Sheridan, Kashi's Natural Lifestyle Business Partner, in the video.
"While it's likely that some of our foods contain GMOs, the main reason for that is because in North America well over 80 percent of many crops, including soybeans, are grown using GMOs," she said. "Factors outside our control, such as pollen drift from nearby crops and current practices in agricultural storage, handling and shipping, have led to an environment where GMOs are not sufficiently controlled."
But The Cornucopia Institute has a different response.