A question about GMOs for Naked Juice, Silk, Cascadian Farm, Kashi and Honest Tea: Which side are you on, boys?

Naked Juice says it doesn’t use ingredients produced using biotechnology as a matter of principle.

Silk, the company that put soymilk on supermarket shelves, says:

We’re proud to participate in the Non-GMO Project, a no a nonprofit, multi-stakeholder collaboration committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers and providing verified non-GMO choices.

Cascadian Farm (“We were organic before organic was a trend”) assures consumers that “you can know when you see the “certified organic” USDA seal on the front of our package that GMO crops have not been used.”

You’ll hear much the same from Kashi (“seven of our foods are now officially Non-GMO Project Verified“) and Honest Tea, which says:

Honest Tea doesn’t use any Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOS) and supports the idea that more transparent labeling will help consumers make clear choices.

The thing is, each of these upstart brands, which tout their commitment to natural or organic product, and to transparency, is owned by a big food conglomerate that opposes GMO labeling.

Think of it this way: Naked Juice (PepsiCo.), Silk (Dean Foods), Cascadian Farm (General Mills) Kashi (Kellogg) and Honest Tea (Coca-Cola) are like kids who don’t agree with their parents.

These, though, are family arguments with big consequences for food shoppers. Big food and agriculture companies funding a campaign which has raised more than $23 million to defeat California’s Proposition 37, a ballot initiative that would mandate clear labeling of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients on food packages. PepsiCo, for example, has donated $1.7 million to defeat Prop. 37, while Coca-Cola has spent more than $1.1 million. Kellogg ($612,000), General Mills ($520,000) and Dean Foods ($253,000) are big donors, too. Biotech companies Monsanto and DuPont have given even more — $4 million apiece — according to data compiled by public TV station KCET. [click to continue…]

PepsiCo and Naked Juice: Confused about GMOs

I’m a fan of Naked Juice. The Protein Zone and Protein Zone Mango smoothies are great ways to refresh and rebuild tired muscles after a long run..

I’m not a fan of sanctimonious b.s., though, and Naked Juice is peddling that along with its juices and smoothies.

Here’s what I’m talking about. The other day, I noticed this message on a Naked Juice bottle:

We use only the freshest, purest stuff in the world and leave out everything else. * no added sugar * no preservatives *non-GMO**   *gluten free

The double asterisk next to non-GMO led me to this:

While many ingredients do not exist in bioengineering varieties, Naked Juice does not use ingredients that were produced using biotechnology as a matter of principle.

It was the last five words that caught my attention. “As a matter of principle.” The phrase also is used on Naked’s website.

Not as a matter of marketing. Not because the consumers of Naked Juice just might happen to be the kinds of people  who would feel good about avoiding GMOs. But as a matter of principle.

Hmm. There’s an implicit moral judgment there, no?

What, I wondered, might the principle be? [click to continue…]

Glimpsing the future at Net Impact 2010

My favorite conference is Net Impact’s annual gathering, mostly because of the crowd—this weekend, about 2,500 people, most of them MBA students, undergrads and young professionals, gathered at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor. These fare the smart, passionate and committed business leaders of tomorrow. I’m proud to be on the board of Net Impact, a nonprofit that helps its members harness the power of business for the greater good.

So much programming is crammed into the two-day event that it can’t be captured in a single blogpost or experienced by anyone, because dozens of sessions on different topics unfold simultaneously. But here are a few highlights:

What’s the future of recycling? It’s an unhappy fact that recycling rates haven’t moved up much since Earth Day. Yes, the original Earth Day, back in 1990. But innovative companies like TerraCycle, RecycleBank and Waste Management–yes, Waste Management, through a subsidiary called Greenopolis–are experimenting with clever and promising new ways to move the needle, by rewarding consumers for recycling.

I first wrote about RecycleBank in 2007. [See Turning trash into cash at Fortune.com] The company measures homeowners’ curbside recycling, and then rewards those who recycle with points that can be redeemed for stuff at more than 1,500 companies. “The idea of consumer behavior change is at the heart of our business,” said Ian Yolles, the chief marketing officer at RecycleBank, who previously worked at Nike and The Body Shop. The company is growing–it now operates in more than 300 communities in 26 states — and its investors include Coca-Cola,  venture capitalists Kleiner Perkins and Generation Investment Management (the fund led by Al Gore and ex-Goldman partner David Blood). RecycleBank generates most its revenues by saving municipalities money (lower tipping fees, higher revenue streams from recycling) and taking a share of the savings. [click to continue…]