It has become common for big food brands to cave to activist groups and to start bashing agriculture, farmers, and biotechnology. One reason so many of these food retailers and food processors are so quick to jump on the anti-GMO, organic, hormone and antibiotic-free bandwagon is that it is very profitable. The organic industry is a $50 billion a year business. Panera Bread and Chipotle have built their entire brand images and marketing strategies around food-fear and farmer-bashing. Some brands are even willing to lower the quality of their products in order to appeal to the latest food fads. Subway is one example. It started taking things out of its bread to appease the food police and now the bread tastes like Styrofoam.
So, it is noteworthy when an iconic food brand, owned by a major food company, stands up and says “no” to the fear mongers. Betty Crocker has gone on record as saying it supports GMOs and stands behind the safety of its products. “GMOs are safe. We would not use them if we thought otherwise,” stated Betty Crocker in an on-line post. It went on to say that regulators worldwide, including the FDA, have approved the technology as safe. This kind of unabashed and forthright stand on biotechnology is refreshing because it is so rare today.
Betty has seen a lot of these fear fads in her day. She was created in 1921 by the Washburn-Crosby Company as a way to give some personality to the then new concept of packaged food products like cake mixes. Over the next several decades, Betty became a person with whom people could identify. She got her voice in 1924 with the first cooking show on radio. Her face was created in 1936, but has undergone subtle changes over the years of the image of the American homemaker has changed. The red spoon image joined the brand in the 1950s. The first Betty Crocker cookbook was published in 1930, and today many homes still contain at least one copy of what for many Americans is the bible of the kitchen. An on-line version also exists for those who have internet on their refrigerator.
While Betty is not a real person, most people don’t realize that and have come to trust Betty and her recipes for generations. So what a better, more powerful spokesperson can there be for a common sense, science-based approach to food?
While GMO-free salt and gluten-free water continue to appear on store shelves, the pro-GMO movement among companies and some consumers is continuing to gain momentum. Let’s continue to support and celebrate Betty and the other brands that are willing to stand up and tell the truth about biotechnology and food safety.
By Gary Truitt