General Mills to make GMO-free Cheerios after consumer, activist outcry
By End the Lie
After significant outcry from consumers and activist groups, General Mills has announced that they are now going to produce their famous Cheerios cereal free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
While the company says they never used genetically modified oats, they are now sourcing non-GMO pure cane sugar instead of beet sugar, according to spokesman Mike Siemienas, quoted by USA Today.
The company still maintains, however, that it has nothing to do with pressure from consumers or advocacy groups and nothing to do with safety.
Interestingly, the company said they have no plans to remove GMOs from their other cereals sold in the U.S., though most varieties of Cheerios sold in Europe are GMO-free.
“For our other (non-organic) cereals, the widespread use of GM seed in crops such as corn, soy, or beet sugar would make reliably moving to non-GM ingredients difficult, if not impossible,” the company said in a statement.
This move will also not affect anything except the original variety of Cheerios. That means that Honey Nut Cheerios, for instance, will still contain GMOs.
Even with the “Not Made With Genetically Modified Ingredients” label on the Cheerios box, General Mills notes that the product could still “contain trace amounts due to contamination in shipping or manufacturing,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Why change anything at all? It’s simple. We did it because we think consumers may embrace it,” wrote Tom Forsythe, vice president of Global Communications for General Mills, in a blog post.
Forsythe also pointed out in his post that the company stands by their position on GMOs.
“On safety – our number one priority – we find broad global consensus among food and safety regulatory bodies that approved GM ingredients are safe,” the company stated.
General Mills also contributed $1.1 million to fighting California’s Proposition 37, which would have put mandatory GMO labeling into law, as The Huffington Post points out.
While Cheerios will have the label pronouncing their lack of GM ingredients, other General Mills cereals will not have labels pointing out the presence of GMOs.
Inc.com points out that the move against GMOs appears to be gaining steam.
Grocery chain Whole Foods removed Chobani yogurt last month, reportedly because they want to make room for GMO-free products and/or clearly labeled products.
Connecticut also became the first state to pass a law requiring GMO labeling last month, though it won’t take effect until four other states pass labeling laws.
A high-profile GMO labeling law in Washington state was rejected in November, with 54.8 percent voting against the initiative.
Still, anti-GMO campaigners see this is as a major victory.
“Original Cheerios in its famous yellow box will now be non-GMO and this victory sends a message to all food companies that consumers are increasingly looking for non-GMO products and companies need to meet that demand,” said Todd Larsen, director of corporate responsibility for Green America.
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