General Mills Will No Longer Use GMOs In Cheerios Cereal
Opponents of the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the American diet experienced a victory on Jan. 2. General Mills announced it would no longer use GMOs in the popular breakfast cereal, Cheerios. The announcement came after the group GMO Inside called on consumers to pressure General Mills. Their campaign began in November of 2012 and grew over social media. By the end of the campaign, over 40,000 consumers posted anti-GMO comments on Facebook.
The basics of GMOs
Genetically modified organisms occur when DNA is injected into an organism, making it more resilient to drought and other unfavorable conditions. Some of the injected genes may come from viruses, bacteria, animals or insects. Most GMO crops also contain pesticides to ensure a bountiful crop. There are currently eight crops in the U.S. that are given this treatment, including (listed in order of most prevalence) soy, cotton, canola, sugar beets, corn, Hawaiian papaya, zucchini and yellow squash.
GMOs in Cheerios
According to General Mills, Cheerios are made with whole grain oats, corn starch, sugar, salt and other ingredients. Formerly, the corn starch and sugar in the cereal came from GMO crops. However, after the GMO Insider campaign, General Mills has pledged to source its ingredients elsewhere.
Consumers posted comments on Cheerios’s Facebook page, protesting the use of GMO ingredients. General Mills purports to adhere to customer demands and had not used GMO ingredients in Europe for years. Campaign organizers felt that if the company would use non-GMO foods in Europe based on demand, they would do so in the U.S. Turns out, GMO Inside was right. General Mills is no longer using GMO ingredients in their Cheerios cereal.
“We don’t use genetically modified ingredients in original Cheerios … our corn starch comes from non-GMO corn, and we use only non-GMO pure cane sugar,” General Mills posted on its website.
Cheerios has been a family favorite for years and many people remember eating the food as a kid. In fact, it has often been the first solid food that babies eat. However, as mothers and fathers joined the campaign, they felt they could no longer serve the cereal to their kids.
Consumer activism caught the attention of General Mills, and many believe that the result will have lasting effects.
“Removing GMOs from original Cheerios is an important victory in getting GMOs out of our food supply and an important first step for General Mills,” Todd Larsen, Green America Corporate Responsibility Director, said in a statement.