I know some of you are wondering what has happened since I wrote the post Why My Daughter will NOT be Selling Girl Scout Cookies.
And I know that many of my loyal Facebook Fans have been wondering exactly what happened in my meeting with my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop leaders and Noreen Halpern, the Regional Membership Director for the Western New York Girl Scout Council, on Friday afternoon.
This letter is my response. I have left out names to protect the girls’ privacy.
Dear parents of Girl Scout Troop ________:
Some of you may be aware that I decided not to allow [The Pixie] to participate in the Girl Scout Cookie sale this year. We felt that we had no other option as Girl Scout Cookies contain GMOs which are harmful to the people who eat them and dangerous for the environment. We felt that to participate in the cookie sale would actually be a violation of the Girl Scout’s own Law.
(I wrote an article explaining our decision which you can read here –> Why my Daughter will NOT be Selling Girl Scout Cookies.
Many people do not know what GMOs –Genetically Modified Organisms—are, or the dangers they pose. People may have heard a few soundbites from mainstream media, possibly including phrases like “exciting new technology” and “feed the world.”
As a health and nutrition/urban homesteading blogger, I am in a unique position to understand what GMOs do to the people who eat them and to the environment. Interestingly, GMOs do not even live up to their “feed the world” boasts; mostly they just feed the pockets of big seed, fertilizer, and pesticide companies.
Early in the school year I discussed with all three leaders my concerns about selling Girl Scout Cookies. I explained that [The Pixie] would not be selling cookies; and they assured me they understood my concerns. We discussed looking at alternative fundraisers for next year.
I agreed to not interfere with this year’s Cookie Sale… and I would like to take a moment to apologize to all of you for agreeing to that. I should have explained what my concerns were, so that you could have made an informed decision regarding whether or not your daughters would be participating in this year’s Cookie Sale.
Allow me to take a moment to remedy my mistake.
A Genetically Modified Organism is something that has the DNA of another plant, animal, bacteria, or virus forcibly inserted into it. An example would be frog DNA inserted into an orange to make it more disease resistant. The resulting “orange” might look and taste like an orange, but it isn’t really an orange anymore; it is part frog.
More to the point, the bakers of Girl Scout Cookies have chosen to use genetically modified sugar beets (in addition to other GMO ingredients) in their cookies, rather than pure cane sugar. GMO sugar beets have been modified to survive even though certain herbicides (such as Roundup) are sprayed directly onto the plant. There is no real way to wash these herbicides off, yet the food is drenched in it. In addition to being linked to the deaths of millions of bees and butterflies, Roundup has been shown to cause birth defects, cancer, and is a hormone disruptor. There is no way of knowing what level of exposure will cause these effects in any individual person.
(In this country, the vast majority of the soy, cotton, canola, sugar beets, and corn crops are genetically modified. There is no requirement that they be labeled, and unless you are taking steps to avoid them, yes, you are eating GMOs.)
This is why our family avoids foods with GMOs in them; we choose foods that are verified GMO-free, certified organic, or come from farmers we know and trust.
Of course, [The Pixie] is five; she isn’t really able to distinguish something that causes slow and chronic illness and something that will immediately hurt her friends. She just knows that we do not eat foods containing GMOs because they are dangerous, and that we will not participate in selling them.
It is my understanding that during [this week’s] meeting she told some friends that they shouldn’t eat or sell Girl Scout Cookies because they are “poison” – her word – and that some of the girls were (understandably) upset. It is also my understanding that [Leader B] tried to explain to the girls about moderation and healthy food choices, but in the end told [The Pixie] that her “mommy was wrong” –again, [The Pixie’s] words, which I extracted, with some difficulty, from [The Pixie] as we walked home after the meeting while I watched tear drops freeze on her little eyelashes.
(Do you remember how cold it was [this week]?)
Now, I am truly sorry if [The Pixie] upset your daughters. Believe me, she is very concerned for her friends, and only wants them to be safe.
I am not exactly pleased at the idea that [Leader B] told [The Pixie] that I am wrong, though I can understand that Girl Scout meetings are not scripted, and people don’t always say the perfect thing under stress. And no one knows better than me how difficult it is to shut [The Pixie] up when she is concerned about something.
What did upset me, however, was when [Leader B] came up to me after the meeting and explained the situation to me. She wanted me to make sure that [The Pixie] didn’t mention why we weren’t selling Girl Scout Cookies again, and especially that she never use the word “poison.” While “poison” is not the word I would choose to use when explaining healthy food choices to a group of kindergarteners and first graders… [The Pixie] is not wrong, and I told [Leader B] that I wouldn’t tell [The Pixie] any such thing. Learning to stand up for your beliefs—even if they are uncomfortable or unpopular—is an important lesson that all our girls need to learn.
Our Troop leaders, however, seem to disagree.
On Friday [Leader L] invited me to a meeting with Noreen Halpern of the Girl Scouts of Western New York to “discuss my issues.” I was under the impression that this was going to be a meaningful dialogue regarding my concerns and might even be a step in persuading the Girl Scouts to change their GMO policy in the future.
Instead… it was like being brought up before the headmistress for being a naughty schoolgirl. They were uninterested in, and completely unwilling to even listen to my concerns. Their only concern was that I never mention anything negative about Girl Scout Cookies again. They assured me that [The Pixie] was a most welcome member of the troop—provided she leaves her beliefs, and our family’s opinions, behind.
In short, I was told to shut up, or get out.
As you may have guessed from this letter, I am withdrawing [The Pixie] from Girl Scouts. I no longer have faith in the troop leadership who seem to value “fitting in”—and making their cookie quota—over ethics, morals, the emotional well being of my daughter.
I’m afraid I expect more from the Girl Scouts—on a National level, on a local level, and from our own leaders.
Indeed, they set up the meeting with the obvious intention of bullying me into silence. And worse yet, they demanded that I silence [The Pixie].
What sort of message is this? That we bully people who have different views? That we must ignore our morals to fit into the crowd?
The Girl Scouts state that “Girl Scouting helps cultivate values, social conscience, and self-esteem in girls while enriching them with valuable and positive life experiences.” It would seem, however, this noble statement basically translates to, “Shut up and sell your cookies.”
I encourage each of you to contact me if you have any questions about GMOs or health and nutrition in general.
Thank you for your understanding,
Proud mother of [The Pixie]
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