By: Nancy Kavazanjian, Wisconsin corn, soybean and wheat farmer
 
I love cookies, and as a former Girl Scout I always look forward to stocking them during their yearly cookie drive. This year I was looking forward to their new S’mores cookie … until I learned it might sport a non-GMO label.
 
From their infamous Thin Mints, to their buttery Trefoils, coconutty Caramel deLites and my personal favorite – the Lemonades – Girl Scout cookies have always filled my freezer in spring. In recent years, they’ve also filled my heart with pride as the Girl Scouts of America publicly reject pressure from noisy activist groups demanding non-GMO ingredients for their cookies.
 
As an organization that prides itself on advancing STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education for girls, it makes perfect sense that Girl Scouts accept scientific advances in food technology. But this year, the Girl Scouts caved to activist demands by releasing their first “non-GMO” cookie. 
 
I understand it’s only the new sandwich cookie commemorating their 100th Anniversary, but even with this being a limited offering, it being sold by a group that prides itself on advancing STEM education for girls, is disappointing. 
 
For the past five years, when placing my orders and accepting delivery of my boxes of cookies, I’ve made a point to thank the girls for standing with science and not yielding to the noisy alarmists who demonize GMO ingredients. Other than the occasional knowing nod from an adult leader, my comments yield blank stares. 
 
Most of these delightful young ladies with their earnest sales pitch know nothing about cookie ingredients, GMOs or the anti-science food alarmists who seek to demonize food. They’re simply trying to raise money for their troops while learning something about business, goal setting and leadership! How sad that they’ve become pawns for an activist community. Even sadder is the realization that they actually may be hurting farmers in developing countries by limiting the availability of agricultural technologies that can help make food more sustainable.
 
I still intend to support our Girl Scouts – perhaps even more so than ever to ensure STEM remains a priority. I’ll just be a little more careful about the varieties I order in supporting their cause, while I comment on the importance of genetic science in food and agriculture!
 
Nancy Kavazanjian, a corn, soybean and wheat farmer in Beaver Dam, Wis., and Long Island, N.Y. native, is Immediate Past Chairwoman of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. She proudly grows GMO crops which reduces her farm’s weed problems and allows them to be much more precise in applying pesticide to control insects.