In a petition launched last week, campaign group GMO Inside called on the New York-based Greek yogurt manufacturer to stop marketing its products as ‘real’ and natural’ until it “switches to verified non-GMO milk sources.”
GMOs are organisms that have been genetically altered in a way that does not occur naturally or through traditional cross-breeding methods. Corn and soy are among the most common examples of GMO produce in the US.
According to GMO Inside, 98% of GMO soy and 49% of GMO corn is used to feed livestock and poultry.
In an open letter, GMO Inside urged Chobani founder and CEO, Hamdi Ullukaya to “be a leader and announce a phase-out of GMO animal feed for your cows.”
“It’s very misleading to market your products as ‘healthy’ and ‘natural’ when your main ingredient is linked so closely to GMOs. GMOs have never been proven safe for human consumption, but the health problems we’ve seen in lab rats and animals leave great cause for concern for ourselves, not to mention the negative environmental impacts of GMOs,” the letter added.
Milk not genetically modified
In a statement sent to DairyReporter.com, Chobani maintained that the milk used to manufacture its Greek yogurt products is not genetically modified.
The firm admitted, however, that there is room for improvement.
“None of our non-dairy ingredients have been genetically modified,” said the company. “The challenge lies in the feed to the 78,000+ cows, across 875+ farms surrounding our plants.”
“But please know that our team is dedicated to addressing GMOs. We’re currently navigating its complexities, specific to dairy, knowing that teamwork from our farmers and industry is necessary," it said.
Consumer GMO boycott
GMO Inside has also called on US consumers to target Chobani on Facebook.
In comments posted on the company's official Facebook page, scores of consumers vowed not to buy or consume Chobani Greek yogurt products until changes are made.
“For over two years I have enjoyed Chobani products. However, the recent hype about your GMO use has put me in a position where I can no longer support or eat your products,” said one post.
“Announce when you stop using GMO fed cows and I’ll start buying your product again,” said another.
In response to one comment, Chobani replied: “We are working very hard on our end to explore all the complexities of GMOs.”