Consumers can expect to see a new, “original” label on shelves soon. Though General Mills is a long-time supporter of biotechnology, it has started manufacturing its Original Cheerios without genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Tom Forsythe, vice president of Global Communications for General Mills, claims on the General Mills blog, that the change was not brought about by pressure, nor a distrust of GMOs — “…it’s not about safety,” Forsythe wrote, “Biotech seeds, also known as genetically modified seeds, have been approved by global food safety agencies and widely used by farmers in global food crops for almost 20 years” — but simply because “consumers may embrace it.”
We oppose state-based labeling, but we support nationally standardized labeling of non-GMO products in the U.S., where there has generally been no requirement for special labeling.
The change didn’t entail much effort, nor is it official certification of any kind. Since Original Cheerios have always been manufactured with whole oats (there are no genetically modified oats available for human consumption), the only changes included sourcing non-GM corn for the corn starch used in cooking and non-GM cane sugar (as opposed to beet sugar) for sweetening. Or as Forsythe writes, the product is “essentially the same.”
GMO Inside, a campaign developed by U.S.-based Green America, aimed at mandatory labelling of GMOs (and whose most recent tweet linked to the Séralini study (pdf) recently retracted from the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology) is celebrating the Cheerios change as a win:
— GMO Inside (@GMOInside) January 2, 2014
GMO Inside began its campaign against General Mills in November of 2012. Relying largely on social media, the campaign targeted General Mills’ Cheerios with Facebook posts, Tweets, emails, and even developed a video with now over 208,000 views (embedded below) to protest GMO ingredients.
New labels will read “Not Made With Genetically Modified Ingredients,” but boxes are said to note trace amounts may still be present due to manufacturing.