Many food brands on the market use the fact that they are GMO-free as a selling point, but Ethos Chocolate wants to sell you on GMOs.
Ethos Chocolate debuted over a week ago with four varieties of chocolate. Each one includes a key ingredient that could benefit from GMO farming. The mastermind behind the product is A Fresh Look, a nonprofit group of 1,600 farmers dedicated to educating the public about the benefits of GMO farming technology.
“A lot of the effort to try and educate the consumers on the benefit of GMOs can come from large industries and not from a farmer base,” explained Rebecca Larson, Ph.D., a lead scientist for A Fresh Look. “The farmers are a much more trusted voice in this discussion because they have a more hands-on experience and there is a desire within the consumer base to understand more of where their food is coming from.”
The chocolates come in four flavors (papaya, apple, orange and cocoa), each with a story behind it. For example The Hero highlights how farmers are using GMO technologies to save Florida orange trees from citrus greening disease (something that, according to Larson, currently threatens 90 percent of orange trees in the state). Another chocolate, The Survivor, focuses on the papaya—specifically the papaya crop in Hawaii largely destroyed by a ringspot virus back in the 1990s.
“GMO technology was able to introduce a recognition factor into that papaya so the papaya could protect itself, pesticide-free, against that virus,” Larson said. The final two products target the cacao tree and non-browning apples.
You won’t find these treats on store shelves (right now, anyway). The company has been giving away thousands of chocolates, through a campaign website, and will continue through Valentine’s Day. A Fresh Look worked with Powell Tate to create the packaging for the products and come up with a marketing strategy to promote them (including launching the website and creating a video about the different flavors).
“There is a huge population in the U.S. that may have negative feelings towards GMO farming today but it’s just because the content around GMO farming is overwhelmingly negative in the social media space. When they actually have a chance to understand the environmental benefits they may not have realized exist, it really can change their perception quickly,” added Larson.