Smirnoff Rejects GMOs... and Science, Too

By Alex Berezow, PhD — Oct 10, 2018
The famous vodka company cashes in on the anti-science movement, announcing that it was renouncing GMO corn in its famous "No. 21 vodka." What's wrong with GMO corn? Nothing. In fact, it's a net positive for the environment.
Credit: Ashley Pomeroy/Wikipedia

Count vodka maker Smirnoff among the latest companies to jump aboard the anti-science bandwagon.

In a new commercial released by the company, along with an accompanying press release, Smirnoff announced that it was renouncing GMO corn in its famous "No. 21 vodka." To make this bold announcement, Smirnoff hired actors Ted Danson and Jenna Fischer, whose average science IQ equals the number on the vodka label.

What's wrong with GMO corn? Nothing. In fact, it's a net positive for the environment. The reason is because genetically modified corn carries a gene that creates an insect toxin (called Bt), which is expressed inside the plant. (The toxin only harms insects, not mammals, including humans.) Because of crops like this, farmers don't have to spray as much insecticide. Everybody wins, except for insect pests that like to eat corn.

But science be damned. The anti-GMO movement is extremely profitable, and many companies want to cash in on the fad. The irony, of course, is that the most dangerous thing in a Smirnoff bottle isn't genetically modified. If you're going to worry about something, worry about the alcohol. As AgWeb cleverly quipped: Rest Easy. A Known Carcinogen Is Now GMO-Free.

It Gets Better: Smirnoff Is Also Gluten-Free

Smirnoff also boasted in its press release that its No. 21 vodka "has always been gluten-free." While that's certainly true, it's also a ridiculous tautology. Gluten is found in wheat and similar grains. It is not found in corn, which serves as the base of Smirnoff's No. 21 vodka. Smirnoff's product is gluten-free because it is biologically impossible for it to contain gluten in the first place. Thus, their ad is every bit as ludicrous as the folks who sell non-GMO, gluten-free water.

How the Public Can Fight Back

The reason that companies pull stunts like this is because they know that a substantial number of consumers are emotional and uninformed. The way that scientifically savvy people should fight back is by purchasing products from companies that aren't afraid to embrace science. Betty Crocker, you're the best.

Alex Berezow, PhD

Former Vice President of Scientific Communications

Dr. Alex Berezow is a PhD microbiologist, science writer, and public speaker who specializes in the debunking of junk science for the American Council on Science and Health. He is also a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors and a featured speaker for The Insight Bureau. Formerly, he was the founding editor of RealClearScience.

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