Farm Progress

The ongoing stampede by marketers to proclaim their products as non-GMO continues unabated. Apparently scare sells.

Hembree Brandon, Editorial director

October 29, 2018

2 Min Read
Ileezhun/iStock/Getty Images

One of my old granny’s sayings, when she thought something particularly foolish or over-the-top, was, “Some people just don’t have enough to worry about.”

Perhaps nowhere is that more apropos than the ongoing stampede of marketers to proclaim their products as non-GMO. We now have GMO-free salt, water, and literally thousands of products from foods to household cleaners, none of which contain ingredients derived from GMO crops. But scare sells.

A recent publicity barrage by Smirnoff, includes a slickly produced (and expensive, given the talent costs) TV commercial featuring actors Ted Danson, he of the in-forever-reruns “Cheers” series in which he played the jovial, but somewhat out to lunch bartender, and actress-author Jenna Fischer. They proudly announce that Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka is now made with non-GMO corn.

A press release notes that the commercial uses two “American treasures” to get the word out about No. 21’s new GMO-free status, pointing out, too, that it “has always been gluten-free” (whoop-de-do), and that because there will be no price increase “everyone can enjoy a quality vodka without having to break the bank.”

You will want to rush to your local liquor purveyor to stock up, content in the knowledge that, although you’re consuming alcohol, a proven carcinogen, you aren’t contaminating your body with corn GMOs, which have been proven in countless scientific studies over many years to be completely benign for human consumption. (Watch the TV commercial at

On another topic, while our president made one of his campaign planks the overturning of NAFTA, terming it one of the worst trade deals ever, he made no mention of how NAFTA has turned Mexico into an obese nation, thanks to cheap U.S. corn and a deluge of American junk foods into Mexican diets.

At least that’s the contention of Alyshia Galvez, professor of Latin American, Latino, and Puerto Rican Studies at the City University of New York. In her book, Eating NAFTA: Trade, Food Policies, and the Destruction of Mexico, she posits that NAFTA has reshaped food systems across North America, with a particularly detrimental impact on Mexican consumers.

NAFTA, she writes, resulted in some 2 million Mexican peasant farmers being displaced by larger farming operations, and large corporations increasingly promoting and selling highly processed foods — particularly targeting children , “fully aware that there is no doubt about the harmful effects of these products.” Today, she says, Mexico is the largest consumer of carbonated drinks in the world, and the largest consumer of processed foods in Latin America, contributing to a “snowballing health crisis.”

Various experts and authorities have weighed in, noting that NAFTA is only one of many influences on the changes that have occurred in Mexico, and that it can’t be blamed for food trends that were already in progress as a result of changing societal and economic forces.

About the Author(s)

Hembree Brandon

Editorial director, Farm Press

Hembree Brandon, editorial director, grew up in Mississippi and worked in public relations and edited weekly newspapers before joining Farm Press in 1973. He has served in various editorial positions with the Farm Press publications, in addition to writing about political, legislative, environmental, and regulatory issues.

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