By: Heaven Bassett

Oh, Ben and Jerry; a staple of life. From breakups to movie nights, childhood memories to sweet-tooth binges, the good old Ben and Jerry tubs have escorted us through life’s pitfalls and triumphs. It takes a lot to make a lasting relationship work; whether it be a marriage or the connection between consumer and frozen treats. It takes smart decisions, the willingness to accept and correct mistakes, and a constant ability to grow and rebrand.

That’s Ben and Jerry’s niche, and they are at it again with the removal of Glyphosate. What do I mean “again” …? And, Glypho-what?

Let’s go back to the long-term association between consumers and this age-old ice-cream. Now, that’s a good relationship. Ben and Jerry haven’t been shy about tradition, or politics. Throughout the years they’ve released flavors to correspond with political and economic standpoints. From the decision to support G.M.O. food labeling requirements, backed by proceeds from their cleverly renamed flavor “Food Fight Fudge Brownie,” to the debate-dodging choice to remove “all-natural” labeling from their containers, and the declaration to separate from G.M.O.’s, Ben and Jerry’s have portrayed a good-guy style business strategy.

So, what happened? While Ben and Jerry have made great strides to separate from G.M.O.’s, a storm was brewing, or should we say the herbicide was lurking beneath the pro-active noses of the B&J figureheads.

After a study conducted by the Health Research Institute Laboratories found traces of the Glyphosate in 13 out of 14 tubs of Ben and Jerry’s in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK, further testing was administered to U.S. samples. The findings showed 10 out of 11 samples to be tainted with Glyphosate, but at much lower levels. In fact, the levels were below the permitted amounts set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Nonetheless, Ben and Jerry’s social mission director, Rob Michalak, rebounded with a proactive stance. Michalak continued to remind of the company’s previous decision to separate from the use of G.M.O.s, and take the test results as a prodding to continue their organic-product mission.

The breakup between Ben and Jerry’s and Glyphosates may have been initiated years ago, but it looks like the weed-killer is having trouble letting go. Ben and Jerry’s will have to take a stronger stance than they have in the past with this popular chemical if they are serious about starting fresh and making new friends.

Ben and Jerry’s have been steadfast about their work to find cost-efficient ways for dairy farms to use non-G.M.O. feed, and have maintained their standards on plant-based ingredients to be completely G.M.O. free. The Glyphosate results were a disappointment to this ‘organic-hopeful’ company, and may have caused a few grocery-store shoppers to take a melancholy step toward other snacks.

The release of these tests results might have been a slap to their momentum, but lucky for ice-cream lovers, Ben and Jerry’s has recognized the problem and plans to attack it at the head. Ben and Jerry’s spokesperson, Laura Peterson, declared 2020 the goal-line to solve the conundrum.

Now, this is not a whistle and a fix. Glyphosates are everywhere, like that ex who became friends with your friends.  Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the common weed killer and go-to household lawn maintenance spray. However, that’s not the only place its used. Look at the UK, where 40 percent of crops are maintained with this high-powered chemical. Glyphosate is reported to be the most-used agricultural chemical in the world. You read that right, the world. Let that sink in, just as Glyphosate sinks in and attaches to soil.

9.4 million tons of Glyphosate has been sprayed onto fields worldwide since its introduction in the 70’s. Here’s a creepy thought, to contend the crop-killing aesthetic of the Glyphosate, genetically modified crops that combated the use of the spray became a reality. From there, weeds have also become resistant, spiking the need for more herbicides to be used. It’s a vicious cycle causing a chronic use of the chemical. Yet, testing states in small doses its considered low-risk to humans; but, what about the standard steady-use and constant exposure to everything we eat?

Recent studies have shown Glyphosates are linked to a bushel of problems. Though this non-specific weed-killer is low in toxicity on its own, the combination of ingredients that help Glyphosate penetrate plants increase its danger. High doses of Glyphosate show carcinogenic properties. Conflicting studies have been released about this popular substance, but the findings have sparked a deeper look. Some tests have shown Glyphosates link to Celiac disease, lymphoma, fatty liver disease, and you guessed it, cancer.

Let’s be honest, most consumers don’t want Roundup in their mouths. We can argue the safe levels until we are blue in the face; but, I’d prefer my ice cream without Glyphosate sprinkles. With as many breakups as Ben and Jerry’s has accompanied, you’d think they’d have the system down.

Ben and Jerry, get comfy on the couch, put on that 90’s chick-flic, cry it out, and keep working to cut Glyphosate out of your life. We’re here for you.

 

 

 

References:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/dining/ben-and-jerrys-ice-cream-herbicide-glyphosate.html?mcubz=0

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/09/ben-jerrys-to-launch-glyphosate-free-ice-cream-after-tests-find-traces-of-weedkiller

http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/glyphogen.html

http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/glyphogen.html#products

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3945755/