No One Is Really Shocked That Ben & Jerry's Is Anti-Science: It's A Surprise Unilever Is
    By Hank Campbell | June 20th 2014 09:44 AM | 11 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    There's no politics in ice cream but if there were, you can bet Ben  &  Jerry's would be the official ice cream of Mother Jones and Union of Concerned Scientists and other Democrats everywhere.

    It's over-priced, it has all the correct social positions for the coasts, and it engages in the sort of naturalistic fallacies and logical flip-flops that anti-science progressives love.

    Like: ice cream is not healthy if it has GMOs.

    Well, it's junk food. It's inherently unhealthy yet they have said with a straight face they want their customers to believe they made it healthier by not having syrup made from a corn that had a genetic modification to allow it to be grown with fewer toxic chemicals.

    They tell us their customers (not them! they insist) think a genetic modification anywhere in the food chain is putting their health at risk. And because they don't want anyone to believe they are anti-science, they fall back on the tired trope that they are "anti-industrialization".

    That's right, a $100 million division of the Unilever conglomerate, the third-largest consumer goods company in the world with $67 billion in revenue, wants to pretend it cares about small farmers and stick it to Monsanto. This giant conglomerate is bullying a much smaller company (one-fifth the size of Unilever) and claiming it is about protecting small business.

    The modern day Food Temperance movement is prettier. And in color. So Ben  &  Jerry's can try to convince America they care about small business, when they are a $67 billion company. Carrie Nation credit: public domain. Unknown girl credit:

    That irony aside, are their customers really demanding no GMOs in overpriced ice cream? Unlikely. On a national survey, unless they were prompted to be worried about GMOs, only 7 percent of Americans proactively mention GMOs on their list of food concerns.

    Given that, we can maintain a healthy skepticism about what their 'customers' (wink wink) think but we know science has nothing to do with it in any case. Anti-GMO people are overwhelmingly left-wing, and left-wing people long ago declared a war on science - you can find a hotbed of anti-vaccine, anti-GMO and anti-energy sentiment just by drawing a circle on a map around a Whole Foods store and 81 percent of counties with a Whole Foods voted For President Obama in 2008

    It used to be that Republicans were considered more anti-science because of global warming denial, but four Republicans from four Republican administrations just testified saying we should do something about climate change this week; where are all of the Democrat elites setting their voters straight about GMOs? 

    You won't find many. Where you will find national Democratic names is insisting that the federal government put warning labels on GMOs - 52 of the 55 names on their effort in 2012 were Democrats.

    Anti-GMO Democrats in the House:

    Peter DeFazio (OR-4)
    Dennis Kucinich (OH-10)
    Louise Slaughter (NY-28)
    Keith Ellison (MN-5)
    Raul Grijalva (AZ-7)
    Peter Welch (VT-At Large)
    Hansen Clarke (MI-13)
    Earl Blumenauer (OR-3)
    Lloyd Doggett (TX-25)
    Anna Eshoo (CA-14)
    Sam Farr (CA-17)
    Maurice Hinchey (NY-22)
    Rush Holt (NJ-12)
    Chellie Pingree (ME-1)
    Jim McDermott (WA-7)
    Madeleine Bordallo (GU-At Large)
    James Moran (VA-8)
    John Olver (MA-1)
    Jared Polis (CO-2)
    Charles Rangel (NY-15)
    Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1)
    Pete Stark (CA-13)
    Howard L. Berman (CA-28)
    Robert Brady (PA-1)
    David Cicilline (RI-1)
    Yvette D. Clarke (NY-11)
    Steve Cohen (TN-9)
    Dianne DeGette (CO-1)
    Bob Filner (CA-5)
    Barney Frank (MA-4)
    Luis Gutierrez (IL-4)
    Janice Hahn (CA-36)
    Michael Honda (CA-15)
    Barbara Lee (CA-9)
    Zoe Lofgren (CA-16)
    James McGovern (MA-3)
    Jan Schakowsky (IL-9)
    Jackie Speier (CA-12)
    John Tierney (MA-6)
    Melvin L. Watt (NC-12)
    Lynn Woolsey (CA-6)
    Maxine Waters (CA-35)
    Grace Napolitano (CA-38)

    Anti-GMO Democrats in the Senate: 
    Barbara Boxer (CA)
    Patrick Leahy (VT)
    Bernie Sanders (VT) (technically not a Democrat, he is an Independent Democrat-Socialist, so he is even more Democrat than Democrats and caucuses with them)
    Daniel Akaka (HI)
    Dianne Feinstein (CA)
    Ron Wyden (OR)
    Mark Begich (AK)
    Jon Tester (MT)
    Richard Blumenthal (CT)
    Jeff Merkley (OR)

    So that anti-science apologists can claim anti-GMO beliefs are "bipartisan", here are the two Republicans who sided with them:

    Anti-GMO Republicans in the House: 

    Richard Hanna (NY-24)
    George Miller (CA-7)

    And Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) tried again last year with the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act (she got two Republicans that time also).

    Ben  &  Jerry's is counting on the gullibility of its customers not to ask too many questions, like which giant multinational conglomerate spent money to defeat Proposition 37 in California, that would have required labels for GMOs.

    That would be Unilever, the parent company of Ben  &  Jerry's. And how do Ben  &  Jerry's customers feel about animal testing when it comes to toxic chemicals? I bet that question about Unilever is not going to get asked in their ice cream stores any time soon.


    Norm Benson
    Yup. Pretty much agree with all you say, Hank.

    Two things:

    1. Junk Food? Ice cream is an essential part of my balanced diet of sugar, fat, caffeine, and alcohol. I could not have made it through my father's Alzheimer's induced decline without ice cream. (Drug of choice: Tillamook old-fashioned vanilla)

    2. While anecdotally the GMO divide feels like a left-right thing--and the Dems are not helping my argument by sponsoring bat-shit-crazy laws--according to Dan Kahan at Cult Cognition, the data do not support that hypothesis.

    3. (I know I said two) Screw Ben and Jerry's/Unilever. What? Is their entire customer base comprised of the 7% mentioning GMO when not prompted? Otherwise, why bother?
    Norm Questioning green dogma since 1972.
    I discussed Kahan's work back then. A good statistician can also show there is no left-right divide on global warming, but we know there is. 

    He relies on surveys, but action is what counts. Democrats take action to penalize GMOs overwhelmingly, just like Republicans take action to halt action action on climate change. They would not do that if their constituents and supporters did not want it that way.

    You don't have to stop voting Democrat because of GMOs.  :)  I live in one of 8 districts in the whole country that is half Democrat and half Republican and this November I will switch my vote for the 3rd time in 3 elections. If science is the only way they are wrong, it's probably worthwhile to stick with them and change it from the inside.
    Norm Benson
    True. Talk (survey data) is cheap. To know one's real values, look where the time and money is spent.
    Norm Questioning green dogma since 1972.

    Your comparison of climate change and GMO is a bit dishonest. Why not compare Republican congressmen who are against climate change instead of just four from previous administrations who are, for the most part, powerless? That is a much better apples-to-apples comparison and it is a list much longer than your Democratic anti-GMO list.

    Here's an example of nearly the entire caucus of House Republicans voting to limit our military's ability to factor in climate change to their geopolitical analysis which is crazy anti-science and very dangerous:

    For the record, I see no reason or evidence to believe GMO products are inherently more dangerous to humans.


    While I am happily to see you personally aren't opposed to GMOs, calling me dishonest and then linking to an overtly partisan political site as more honest isn't going to work very well. When it comes to science, Think Progress wouldn't know nonpartisan honesty if a lab fell on them. 

    There four prominent top-level former Republican administration officials speaking for climate change in just one meeting - you dismiss it as saying they are 'powerless'. Fine, show me four senior members of Obama's administration who are pro-GMO. We know they have power, let's see them defending any science position that doesn't involve putting more regulations on energy companies they don't subsidize.


    You are not helping your case. It's unfortunate you dismiss information sources which you do not agree with out of hand. Are you saying the vote didn't happen? The article has links to the relevant information and the amendment is very short:
    * Vote:
    * Amendment:

    You've added nothing to the conversation other than waving off the source without providing a reason besides you're own bias.

    On to your other point, I'll show you the only administration official with power that really matters: the President. Liberal groups have been on him to back GMO labeling for years now which would fulfill his campaign promise in 2007. His actions show no interest in advancing the issue.

    Also, try a search of 'Monsanto Protection Act" also known as the Farmer Assurance Provision. Liberal groups were really pleased he signed that into law.

    Maybe you could direct me to some sources (partisan or not, just make sure they can back up their claims with credible sources) which show the administration is rabidly anti-GMO.


    I'm fine with you believing only Republicans are anti-science. Everyone at Mother Jones and Think Progress passes a partisan litmus test before getting hired so it's good you embrace that. But it is simply a religious belief, it is not evidence-based. Saying I should rewrite a book or 1500 articles in a comment reply is silly.

    You did no research, you simply linked to a political website that matches your confirmation bias. Now you want me to spend my time debunking their opinion. I write for a living, it's a waste of time trying to convince one Democrat on the Internet that not all Republicans are stupid. I wouldn't bother trying with 47% of Republicans either. Science 2.0 is for the 6% in the middle. Everyone else reads Think Progress or Fox or whatever and that is fine.
    Your errors in logic are disappointing. You are using assumptions to make your argument. You assume just because a site is political it can't contain facts like congressional votes. I never said Republicans are the only anti-science faction in our society. I challenged your assumption that Republicans are beginning to accept climate change because four irrelevant old-school Republicans are urging action. There's very little evidence of it. I haven't seen the Speaker of House or the Senate Minority leader make any comment reversing their unsupported opinion that man-made climate change is fiction. Also, the EPA is constantly under attack by Republicans. It was the infamous government agency that Perry forgot in the debates. With that in mind, I'm not hopeful that the conservative Senators at that hearing took the four administrators advice to heart. That's an assumption on my part. I hope I'm proven wrong.

    Again, you attacked me (or at least your figment of what I am) and not my idea or any of the facts I provided to you (come on, how can you completely ignored my Obama GMO link?). Call me a Democrat and throw in a dig about religious belief which was very confusing. When were deities invoked in this discussion?

    If you don't want to be challenged you should just turn off comments and put out your writing blissfully ignorant of all other viewpoints and possible evidence against your point of view. It's a shame. I was hoping for a better and more constructive argument.

    Michael Martinez
    I'm no fan of high fructose corn syrup.  Without delving into the highly politicized world of think tankery I can find enough scientific research that calls HFCS into question that I would prefer we didn't use it -- at least not until we have done more research.  As a diabetic I get the whole "sugar is sugar" argument but normal cane sugar hasn't been tied to liver cancer and other issues the way HFCS has been.

    Besides which, I like the formulation on soft drinks made with cane sugar much more than those made with HFCS (not that I can drink them very often).

    As for the ice cream guys, they're like all the other food companies out there: nothing they sell you is going to put you over the top on any chart.  It's just that we all eat so much we're slowly poisoning ourselves with the food regardless of where it comes from, what's in it, and who we believe on the healthy/toxic/harmless debates.

    Where's my white cheese dip ....

    but normal cane sugar hasn't been tied to liver cancer and other issues the way HFCS has been.
    Sugar has been linked to everything. Mark Bittman in the New York Times could practically trademark 'sugar is the problem'.

    HFCS is just more common in the US in the last 30 years so it gets more heat. But anyone who thinks bleached white table sugar is a healthy alternative to anything is out of their skulls.
    Michael Martinez
    Nope, not saying excessive sugar is healthy.  :)
    Maybe we'll have all the sugar molecules and their effects mapped out in 30 years.  I hope I'm there to find out.