Ben & Jerry's fires back after organic group finds traces of herbicide in its ice cream
One day after The Organic Consumers Association told the New York Times that it found traces of glyphosate—a controversial herbicide found in Monsanto’s Roundup (a popular weed killer used on genetically modified organisms or GMOs)—in 10 of 11 samples of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, the company fired back Wednesday, saying they haven’t even seen the group's report yet.
A spokesperson for Ben & Jerry’s told FOX Business that, “We are aware of the recent New York Times article indicating that trace amount of glyphosate were found in some Ben & Jerry’s flavors. While we have not yet seen the results, we can confirm all Ben & Jerry’s products are safe to consume. Even if the reported results are accurate, as the laboratory that conducted the test stated, a person would have to consume 145,000 eight-ounce servings PER DAY to reach the limit set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”
And, according to the company’s website citing its non-GMO standards, they do let consumers know that under “mandatory declaration requirement of European regulations and the GMO labeling law passed in [their] home state of Vermont,” that the company does allow its dairy and egg suppliers to use conventional animal feeds that contain GMO grains.
Additionally, the levels are far below the ceiling set by the EPA. But the news still comes as a surprise to many consumers, since the company has been marketing itself as non-GMO since 2014.
Rob Michalak, global director of social mission at Ben & Jerry’s, also told The New York Times, that while they are working to ensure all ingredients in its supply chain come from sources that do not include any GMOs, none of its plant-based ingredients come from any GMO crops, such as corn or soy. Additionally, the company is trying to figure out a more cost-effective way for dairy farms that supply its milk to use non-GMO feed.
“We’re working to transition away from GMO, as far away as we can get,” Michalak told The New York Times. “But then these tests come along, and we need to better understand where the glyphosate they’re finding is coming from. Maybe it’s from something that’s not even in our supply chain, and so we’re missing it.”
While the levels of glyphosate were well below the legal limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) argues that any presence of the pesticide product is misleading to the consumer.
"It's time for Ben & Jerry’s to announce it will immediately begin transitioning to 100 percent organic. Otherwise conscious consumers have no choice but to launch a national and, if necessary, international protest campaign and boycott,” the OCA said in a post on its website.
Additionally, the OCA says reports published by Regeneration Vermont reveal that Ben & Jerry’s suppliers—and Vermont and U.S. (non-organic) dairy farmers in general "have gone backwards, rather than forward over the past 15 years in terms of environment sustainability, food safety, and nutrition and greenhouse gas pollution.” The organization has also called on the company to stop labeling its ice cream as “natural.”