UPDATE December 22, 2020:
We have taken some important steps forward in our commitment to phasing out all ingredients made with crops chemically dried using glyphosate by the end of 2020. However, this work is taking longer than anticipated and we are disappointed to report that we’ve been unable to fully achieve our goal. We feel it’s important to be transparent about falling short before the deadline we set for ourselves.
We remain very much committed to reducing the chemical footprint of our business in general, and to ending the use of glyphosate as a chemical drying agent specifically. In addition to the work we’ve been doing in our supply chains for our manufacturing processes in North America and Europe, we’ve also been advocates for a ban on the use of glyphosate as a drying agent and will continue to support regulation that would end this practice across agricultural supply chains.
We commit to publishing a more comprehensive accounting of our progress by February 28, 2021 to update you on our path to achieving our goal and invite you to check back for a more detailed follow-up.
In light of recent reports, we'd like to reassure our fans that our products are safe to eat and that the trace levels of the herbicide glyphosate detected were significantly below safe levels according to all global food safety regulations. Even the lab that performed the tests of U.S. and E.U. flavors admitted in the New York Times that the levels found in Ben & Jerry’s products “would seem totally irrelevant”.
At Ben & Jerry’s, we've worked hard to be responsive to our fans desire for a more sustainable and less industrialized kind of farming. That's why we've taken many steps over the years to move towards a less chemically intensive and more transparent food system. We led the legal fight in the United States to label dairy products from cows treated with rBGH, the synthetic artificial growth hormone; we phased out use of genetically engineered ingredients in our products; and we've been dogged advocates for mandatory disclosure of GE/GMO ingredients in food products. Despite this work, we were disappointed to learn that recent testing in the United States and Europe revealed trace levels of the commonly-used herbicide glyphosate in several of our flavors. Disappointed, but not totally surprised. Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in agriculture and is everywhere – from mainstream food, to natural and organic food, and even rainwater--and that’s the issue.
But simply saying trace levels are in everything is not a strategy. That's why we're pleased to make two important announcements that are part of our ongoing journey.
1. No more ingredients using glyphosate-dried crops. Ingredients like wheat and oats are commonly sprayed with glyphosate as a drying agent before harvest. This practice is the most common and likely pathway for the presence of glyphosate in the food system. By no later than 2020, we will stop sourcing ingredients that have been made with crops chemically dried using glyphosate. We understand and share our fans’ desire to limit the amount of chemicals in the food system, which is why this step is important. In addition, we intend to advocate for policies that would end use of glyphosate as a chemical drying agent.
2. Sourcing organic dairy. We are excited to bring an innovative, new product line to market in 2018 that will source 100% organic dairy in the base mix. We believe this sends an important signal to our fans and suppliers of our support for a more sustainable approach to agriculture. We anticipate our new line will represent up to 6% of our total U.S. sales.
We're proud to take these steps and believe that they move us closer to our vision of a more sustainable approach to agriculture and dairy and our fans' desire for a less chemically intensive food system.