December 11, 2023

Starbucks Applauded for Standing Firm in Defense of GMOs

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Free-Market Activist Group Urges International Coffee Giant to Reject Doing Business with Suppliers Working With Activists Opposing Company and Humanitarian Interests

Seattle, WA/Washington DC – At the annual meeting of Starbucks shareholders in Seattle Wednesday, the National Center for Public Policy Research applauded Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz for standing firm against un-scientific, inhumane anti-GMO activists and requested that the coffee giant cleanse its supply chain of corporations that work with activists against Starbucks interests.

“While Starbucks executives fell short of promising to purge its supply chain of companies that are working hand-in-glove with anti-GMO activists pressuring Starbucks, if I were in the leadership of one of these companies, I would certainly reconsider our corporate stance,” said the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project Director, Justin Danhof, Esq.

At the meeting, Danhof asked Schultz, in part:

Just this month a coalition of activists working with various companies launched a campaign to force this Company to serve ONLY milk produced from cows that are not fed GMOs, without regard to the views of our Company’s customers or the fact that this Company already offers dairy milk free of bovine growth hormones and an organic soy milk alternative.

Some of the companies that are now working with those who are engaged in pressuring this Company to reject GMOs sell organic milk, coffee beans, paper supplies and other products that this company uses. Can we, the shareholders, be confident that this firm will avoid buying products from firms that are working with activists to pressure this company to work against sound science, against its interests, against the very real environmental benefits of GMOs and against the health interests of little children overseas?

Some of the companies engaged with Green America, the group pushing Starbucks to ban milk from cows that have eaten GMO crops, include Organic Valley, Larry’s Beans and Seventh Generation.

“The Starbucks executives are well versed in the GMO issue, and have sided with common sense,” said Danhof. “Earlier, when a website petition threatened the company with a boycott unless it donated to a GMO labeling initiative in Washington, the company did not back down. For that, Starbucks deserves a lot of credit.”

Last week, Scientific American reported that the delayed application of Vitamin A-enhanced Golden Rice thanks to controversies stirred by anti-GMO activists had cost over 1.4 million life years in India alone since 2002.

A magazine commentary further explained that “[t]he majority of those who went blind or died because they did not have access to Golden Rice were children. These are real deaths, real disability, real suffering, not the phantom fears about the human health effects of Golden Rice thrown around by opponents, none of which have held up to objective scientific scrutiny.”

“Anti-GMO activists have so demonized this wonderful technology that people are afraid to make use of it, even to save lives,” said Amy Ridenour , chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research. “As Scientific American reported, the company that figured out how to insert a gene from carrots into rice to allow rice to develop Vitamin A turned over all the financial interests from its discovery to a non-profit. It didn’t want people’s opposition to profit-making to get in the way of a lifesaving and sight-saving crop. But people still aren’t being saved because relatively wealthy American and European anti-GMO activists who have plenty of Vitamin A in their diets have frightened people in the Third World away from planting this rice. And who suffers the most? Children.”

“Starbucks has a reputation as a liberal company and we are a conservative group,” added Ridenour, “but we commend Starbucks. It is right to stand up to these hard-hearted activists and stick with the science and the potential of GMOs. While Third World lives are not directly saved specifically by the type of milk served at Starbucks stores, many may be saved if leading companies such as Starbucks stick to their guns and the world, noting this, comes to realize that GMOs, if we let them, can save many lives. Companies such as Starbucks are very influential.”

A video recording of the entire exchange between Justin Danhof, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and Starbucks CFO Troy Alstead is on YouTube here, the question as prepared for delivery is here and a transcript of the Starbucks executives’ responses is here.

In January, Danhof attended the annual meeting of Monsanto shareholders on behalf of the National Center and spoke out against a shareholder proposal that tried to force that company to support mandatory GMO labeling.

In his remarks there, Danhof noted that:

GMOs are mainstream agriculture. GMOs feed people more efficiently. GMO crops are more environment-friendly than conventional crops. Numerous scientific bodies have determined that GMO foods are safe, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Medical Association, the Royal Society of Medicine and the World Health Organization.

Literally hundreds of studies have confirmed that GMOs are safe… GMO foods are a great gift to mankind. They lower food costs, allow farmers to produce food in a more sustainable way, and, as Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation have pointed out, show great promise for ending world hunger and malnutrition.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a Starbucks shareholder.

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is a leading free-market corporate activist program. In 2013, Free Enterprise Project representatives attended 33 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, media bias, gun rights and many more important public policy issues. Today’s Starbucks meeting was the National Center’s fifth attendance at a shareholder meeting so far in 2014.

In less than three months in 2014, the Free Enterprise Project’s work has garnered over 1,000 media citations and has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, the Fox Business Network, Rush Limbaugh, Business Insider, the Washington Times, the Guardian, the Daily Caller, MSNBC, the Daily Mail and many hundreds more.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.

Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.