By Dr. Mercola
The industrial dairy industry is in crisis mode in the U.S. after Dannon Company announced in April 2016 that it would be committing to non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) agricultural practices over the next three years. “Because consumer preferences are continuing to evolve and Dannon puts consumers at the center of every decision it makes … new yogurts with non-GMO ingredients are available for the first time from Dannon,” the company wrote in July 2016. The company said this was only the beginning of a transformation of its Dannon, Danimals and Oikos brands of yogurt to all non-GMO ingredients.
The latter change alone will require the conversion of about 80,000 acres of farmland to produce non-GMO crops for the feed. In addition, the company stated that it would clearly label GMO ingredients in those products that contain them, “independent of actions taken (or not) by the federal government.”
Consumer Demand Is Challenging the Dairy Industry
It’s a major step forward that is indeed a sign of changing consumer attitudes and an attempt to protect itself from steep losses facing competitors.
Industrialized Dairy Takes Aim at Dannon’s GMO-Free Pledge
Genetically engineered (GE) feed dominates the industrial dairy industry, despite mounting concerns that it’s not safe for people or the environment.
In addition to risks from the genetic engineering itself, glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, is used in large quantities on GE glyphosate-tolerant crops (i.e., Roundup Ready varieties).
Glyphosate in animal feed has been found to sicken farm animals, with farmers noting correlations between glyphosate in animal feed and rates of miscarriage, deformities in piglets and infertility among the animals.
Drastic Changes in How Food Is Produced, Including Dairy, Are Desperately Needed
Part of Dannon’s pledge included a promise to provide a fixed profit margin to its farmer partners supplying milk, which is newsworthy in itself since the price of milk is now so low that an average-sized dairy farm in Vermont (about 125 cows) is operating at a loss of $100,000 a year.
It’s the cost of producing milk in a system that values maximizing production above all else, even the health of its producers, the cows themselves. So, change is indeed desperately needed; it can’t come soon enough.
Why Grass-Fed Dairy Is Better
Returning to grass-fed (and naturally GMO-free) dairy is a solution to the problems created by industrial dairy. As it stands, however, only about 22 percent of U.S. dairy cows have access to pasture, and even this tends to be limited.
While monocrops of GE soy and corn used for dairy feed and processed foods are often considered “healthy” for the environment, they require inputs in the form of fertilizers and pesticides.
Grass-fed cows require only grazing and manure from grazing cows. It’s a closed-loop system that regenerates the soil, supports wildlife biodiversity, sequesters carbon and limits pollution of waterways.
The fact that Dannon is switching to GMO-free products shows the power that the public holds, even over giant corporations. They are responding to consumer demand, and so will other companies if the demand for grass-fed continues to grow. By choosing to support companies that, in turn, support natural and traditional farming practices like grazing cows on pasture and feeding 100-percent grass, you let your voice for positive change be heard loud and clear.