Stonyfield is an anti-science food company that cries “wolf” about GMO’s and claims organic is better/healthier. Recently they released an “unscripted” commercial in which children are repeating all the “bad” things they’ve heard about GMO’s. In response to this video, many people took to replying to it on facebook, telling them what they thought about their use of (arguably brainwashed) children, how they’re anti-science, etc, and as a result Stonyfield banned hundreds of people, myself included, from commenting on their posts, as well as deleted hundreds of comments, claiming “spam” and “fake users” (yes, they went full trump on this one). The following is the open letter from the hundreds of us who are Banned By Stonyfield:
“Dear Gary Hirshberg and the Stonyfield Executive Team:
We are real people, with real names, real jobs and real concerns. We are the more than 575 social media users — scientists, farmers, educators, students, mothers and fathers — who you tried to silence when we responded to your recent marketing video. You have deleted thousands of comments, and your chairman and former CEO has called us “trolls” with “fake accounts.”
Your decision to aggressively curate those comments and the way you have portrayed us is wrong.
We are individuals who understand the value of genetic engineering in agriculture, and the importance of facts in this conversation. When people speak up for science, and speak against lies, unity happens by default. There was no planned or coordinated effort to respond to your ad. We have genuine concerns about the way you’re marketing your products, about the lies you’re telling to increase your bottom line, and about the intentional removal of facts from the conversation.
Instead of focusing on the merits of your yogurt, you chose to exploit parents’ concerns about the safety of the food they give their families. You used children as props to spread your message. We question your ethics and deride your efforts to disparage and divide large segments of the agricultural community.
There is but one part of your ad that we agree with: “It’s better if we get informed.”
That’s what we were trying to do. We contributed positively and respectfully to the discussion and cited peer-reviewed science to stimulate the conversation. A conversation you said you welcomed. Instead, Stonyfield, a multimillion dollar company, initiated a campaign to purposefully restrict consumers’ access to scientific information about their food. Comments from a wide variety of scientists, farmers and agricultural communicators were deleted from view, and those authors were banned. It is disappointing when the opportunity to speak up is blunted, and when the social aspect of social media is rejected.
We hope others will see this open letter and become motivated to begin asking questions. To seek out accurate scientific information from the very sources Stonyfield worked to remove. We also hope to embolden others who call out misleading and fear-based marketing messages.
This kind of marketing hurts us all. Fear-based food messages are negatively impacting the buying and eating habits of consumers, especially among the poorest demographics. It demonizes safe and beneficial technology — technology that allows farmers to grow more food on less land, using fewer resources and reduce the environmental impact of the agricultural sector. Marketing messages like yours work to take choices away from farmers, and make consumers feel like they don’t have safe choices at the grocery stores.
We choose not to be silenced. We choose facts over fear. And we’ll work hard to have this conversation about science and food with or without you. We encourage you to choose to be a part of it in the future.
Banned By Stonyfield”