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Nation's Leading Yogurt Maker Will Remove GMO Ingredients and Source Milk From Non-GMO Fed Cows
Two more major food companies, Dannon and Hershey Co., are making big changes to their ingredients in products sold nationwide as the July 1 deadline for Vermont’s law—which requires the labeling of genetically modified (GMO) food products sold in the state—approaches.
Yogurt maker Dannon is removing GMOs from its popular products. Photo credit: Instagram
The nation's leading yogurt maker announced today that its three flagship brands, Dannon, Oikos and Danimals, will move to more natural ingredients that are not synthetic and non-GMO. These brands represent 50 percent of the company’s current volume.
Additionally, for these three brands, the feed of its farmers’ cows will be non-GMO, as per the company announcement:
For the company’s foundation ingredient—milk—Dannon is going one big step further. Starting in 2017 and completing the transformation by the end of 2018, Dannon will work with its farmer partners to ensure that the cows that supply Dannon’s milk for these flagship products will be fed non-GMO feed, a first for a leading non-organic yogurt maker.
The New York Times reported that Dannon will set up a direct pipeline to some farms that supply the company with milk as well as a new supply system in which farmers in the program must follow Dannon-dictated animal welfare standards and work to improve and conserve soil on their farms.
“Engaging in this direct way with our milk suppliers allows us to join them in a journey to improve agricultural practices and reduce their footprint on the environment, which in turn reduces Dannon’s footprint on the environment,” Mariano Lozano, chief executive of the Dannon Company, told the newspaper.
“For the last many decades, we’ve had a system that encourages short-term efficiencies at the expense of soil health, animal welfare and biodiversity,” Lozano continued. “We want to play a part in changing that system.”
The White Plains, New York-based company, which sells more than 200 different flavors, styles and sizes of cultured refrigerated and frozen dairy products, has pledged to "evolve the remaining brands over time."
Dannon said its overall aim is to "increase transparency" in its products and "evolve to more natural and fewer ingredients for flagship brands."
Dannon has also committed to labeling all its products that contain GMO ingredients by December 2017 as it favors a nationwide labeling system.
Similarly, Hershey CEO Hershey CEO J.P. Bilbrey said in a Tuesday conference call that the chocolate-maker will also make changes to their products to comply with Vermont's label law.
"We will abide by what's happening in Vermont and label as appropriate," Reuters quoted him saying.
He added that he hopes "at federal level there is clarity brought to this [GMO labeling] question because it becomes an interstate commerce issue."
EcoWatch reported last year that the candy giant already committed to swapping GMO sugar beet for cane sugar and switching to non-GMO soy lecithin for their most popular chocolate brands, including Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolates and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars.
Bilbrey also said that his company's sales in the most recent quarter declined 4.3 percent in North America, specifically pointing out that consumers are starting to prefer healthier ingredients and transparency, Fortune reported. Polls show that the vast majority of Americans, 89 percent, want the federal government to require labels on genetically engineered food.
Bilbrey pointed to Hershey's recent acquisition of non-GMO chocolate brand barkTHINS as an example that the iconic chocolate brand is changing with the times.
“Since its launch in 2013, barkTHINS has quickly become a favorite snack brand, due to its commitment to using simple ingredients, fair trade cocoa and non-GMO certification,” Bilbrey said. “barkTHINS is a very attractive and uniquely crafted brand that essentially created the chocolate thins category, a new form of chocolate stacking.”
Dannon and Hershey are following in the footsteps of other food giants. In recent months companies such as Campbell Soup, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, ConAgra and Frito-Lay have voluntarily decided to disclose if their products contain GMOs. Following Vermont, many other states are also considering their own GMO label laws.
For such a tiny state, little Vermont's looming labeling mandate has sparked major controversy. EcoWatch reported previously that powerful food and beverage trade organizations have heavily lobbied and spent eye-popping sums to fight state-by-state labeling mandates to prevent a patchwork of different state labeling laws. Food organizations also argue that labeling specifically for GMOs will be costly to the consumer.
Big Food, however, was dealt a huge blow this past March when the Senate rejected Sen. Pat Roberts’ (R-Kan.) Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (SAFE). The bill, dubbed by opponents as the Denying Americans the Right to Know Act or DARK Act, would have prevented states—namely Vermont—from requiring labeling of GMOs and stopped pending state laws that require labeling to go into effect.
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By Julia Conley
Climate campaigners on Friday expressed hope that policymakers who are stalling on taking decisive climate action would reconsider their stance in light of new warnings from an unlikely source: two economists at J.P. Morgan Chase.
Tensions are continuing to rise in Canada over a controversial pipeline project as protesters enter their 12th day blockading railways, demonstrating on streets and highways, and paralyzing the nation's rail system
Colorado River Has Lost 1.5 Billion Tons of Water to the Climate Crisis, 'Severe Water Shortages' May Follow
California is headed toward drought conditions as February, typically the state's wettest month, passes without a drop of rain. The lack of rainfall could lead to early fire conditions. With no rain predicted for the next week, it looks as if this month will be only the second time in 170 years that San Francisco has not had a drop of rain in February, according to The Weather Channel.
The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.
"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."
While the Pacific Northwest has flooded from heavy rains, the southern part of the West Coast has seen one storm after another pass by. Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor said more Californians are in drought conditions than at any time during 2019, as The Weather Channel reported.
The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.
"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.
Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.
"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.
NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.
As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.
"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.
The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.
"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."
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