Note: The Clif Bar Family Foundation recently established Seed Matters "to improve the viability and availability of organic seed to ensure healthy, nutritious and productive crops." Its current marketing campaign centers around an animated video where the spokesman, "Mr. Seed," spends a five-minute foul-mouthed tirade against GMOs.
In the rebuttal below, Randy Krotz, CEO of U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, explains why so-called "scare marketing" like this damages the industry and what farmers and ranchers should do in response.
It saddens me to say that the organic food industry has reached a new low. U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance has always been an organization that promotes and encourages diversity in food production practices, but we find ourselves speechless, mouths hanging open. The atrocity of the Seed Matters video created for the Clif Bar Family Foundation, and the messages within, have crossed the line.
In an attempt to scare the public about GMO crops, the video uses unrealistic imagery (think skeletal fish, seeds on steroids) to promote an organic agenda. The website of the film’s creators (http://thebutlerbros.com/work/mr-seed/), states the main character, Mr. Seed “educates people about seed issues and the benefits of organic seed.” But Seed Matters actually perpetuates some of the greatest myths of agriculture using a foul-mouthed character and inappropriate imagery. The main purpose of the video is supposedly taking a stance on biotech and its ability to feed the world. The mark really couldn’t have been further missed.
There are millions of people who work in the agricultural industry around the world. At a time when we should be united for the common good of feeding the world, we are fighting instead, using unethical and non-factual propaganda as the weapon. Food companies are using junk science driving people away from sustainable practices like GMOs to manipulate consumers for the sole purpose of market gain. The bottom line is: no matter your approach to farming, or how you view various farming practices, the outright demonization of conventional agriculture and family farms is despicable.
I have toured Clif’s small, organic farm in the highly erodible hills of northern California and participated in multiple events where Clif Company representatives presented myths against conventional agriculture to rooms full of eager listeners. I was always respectful in my approach and communications. As an individual and as part of this organization, we listened and we engaged in dialogue in an attempt to illustrate our support for their farming practices. But agriculture as a whole cannot be tolerant any longer.
Too many times conventional agriculture takes the white hat approach while food companies like Chipotle and Clif, strike with negative retorts in the form of videos and cutting words. This video, and several others, are not just attacking how we farm; they are personally insulting science, agronomic research and all farmers who choose to implement modern farming practices such as GMOs.
So what are our next steps? In an ideal world, we would drive for consumers and agriculturalists alike to see through these scare tactics and abandon these products all together. Our approach might be effective for a short time, but in reality, this voice is not one we will be able to stop. There will be more videos painting farmers, ranchers and our methods of food production in an ominous manner.
We need a long-term solution. It’s time for all of agriculture to come together and respond as a collective and united force, not just those that are part of our organization. This video (and several others) directly and falsely impact consumer opinions about how we grow and raise food, which in turn, directly impacts the present and the future for farmers and ranchers. It unjust and raises unrealistic fears about the food we grow and the health of it.
I encourage each and every one of you reading this to Be Offended. Be Disgusted. Be Angry. And even Be Hurt and to react loud and clear. Our livelihoods are being criticized and it is time to respond.