Millennials, baby boomers and Gen Zers have grimaced at my proclamation that GMOs are not bad. Regardless of your stance, the reality is that GMOs are saving lives, and 90% of scientists consider them safe to eat. It’s one of those uncomfortable topics such as politics where, if you disagree, that’s that.
So it has been both a shock and reassuring to see fake meat exploding into popularity in recent months. Impossible Foods, which gets its beefy taste from genetically engineered yeast, has been so popular that restaurants that carry it have quickly experienced product shortages.
It is sad that it is seen as brave for companies to publicly speak out about why their products have GMOs. For example, Impossible Foods’ comms head Rachel Konrad constantly defends the brand from false and misleading reporting.
"Consumers are rational, and facts and data will eventually prevail," she said.
For most people, lack of a non-GMO label does not affect purchasing decisions and non-GMO claims are not highly correlated with purchase intent, according to a new, unreleased GFI-commissioned MindLab study.
The National Milk Producers Federation created the Peel Back the Label campaign two years ago to combat deceptive food marketing tactics. Through the campaign’s website, it is calling out brands marketing a food product as "GMO-free" to help differentiate it from competitors, despite the fact no other product in that category would ever even contain GMOs.
And some brands are actually being sued by unhappy consumers who eventually find out they’ve been duped. Chipotle Mexican Grill recently agreed to pay $6.5 million to resolve consumer litigation over allegedly misleading non-GMO marketing.
Communicators, marketers and copywriters: Next time you sit down to write content about your brand being "GMO-free," stop and think: Why? For all the recent talk of purpose, truth and authenticity, this is one area in particular where industry pros need to have the guts to not just say what they think the customer wants to hear.
Impossible Foods might be a sign that the tide is changing.