A little over a year ago, Green America launched our GMO Inside campaign and started targeting General Mills to get the GMOs out of Cheerios. Tens of thousands of Green Americans, including our business members, took action with us and called, e-mailed, and posted on Cheerios Facebook page demanding non-GMO options for the US market.
Now General Mills has announced that there are no more GMOs in original Cheerios.
General Mills announced that the company was "able to change how we source and handle ingredients to ensure that the corn starch for original Cheerios comes only from non-GMO corn and our sugar is only non-GMO pure cane sugar."This is a great victory for the non-GMO movement, as a major manufacturer of a top breakfast cereal proves that it is possible to shift a supply chain to non-GMO ingredients in response to consumer demand.
Throughout the year, Green America and GMO Inside will push for more food brands to follow General Mills' lead, and we'll push for General Mills to shift the rest of its cereal, and other products, to non-GMO sourcing. (For now, only "original" Cheerios in the iconic yellow box have been announced as GMO-free. General Mills continues to manufacture 11 other varieties of Cheerios - so the fight isn't over.)
Just as much as we want to name and shame the worst corporations, we want to celebrate and praise major companies that decide to do the right thing. Please take a moment today to thank General Mills for its first step toward non-GMO breakfast cereals.
Many media outlets are writing about this story as well including NY Times, Al Jazeera, LA Times, NPR, CNN, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Bloomberg, PBS, Voice of America, and more. Read some of the news stories here.
Why the No GMOs, Cheerios! Campaign
While General Mills promotes the health benefits of Cheerios for their whole grain oats, stating “The whole grain oats in Cheerios Cereal are natural,” it is silent about the fact that many of the other ingredients in Cheerios sold in the U.S., including modified corn starch, sugar, vitamin E, brown sugar syrup, canola, and natural almond flavor, are at high risk for containing GMOs. Many of General Mills’ other cereals and brands also contain GMOs.
While concealing its use of GMOs in the United States and Canada, General Mills offers non-GMO Cheerios to consumers in Europe. Most industrialized countries have required GMO labeling for years. In Europe, General Mills manufactures Cheerios without GMOs, or if it sells Cheerios in Europe that are manufactured in North America, the product is labeled as “likely containing GMOs.”
Adding insult to injury, General Mills has spent $1.1 million to oppose GMO labeling legislation in CA, thus perpetuating consumer deception. In Washington State, General Mills is likely covertly funding the campaign opposing labeling initiative 522 through the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). General Mills’ CEO Ken Powell is the vice chair of the GMA, which to date has given $10.6 million to fight I-522. Polls of Americans demonstrate that more than 93 percent support the labeling of GMOs. General Mills has ignored growing consumer concerns about GMOs and failed to even label their products that contain GMOs. Instead, the company defends GMOs as safe and beneficial.
However, the evidence against GMOs is growing. Contrary to the promises of biotech companies, GMOs are actually increasing pesticide use worldwide which has disastrous effects on the health of farmworkers and water, soil, and air quality. In addition, GMO crops are contaminating fields of non-GMO and even organic farms, and farmers who experience this contamination may also be sued for growing patented GMO crops that they never intended to grow. Finally, increasing research is pointing to negative health impacts of consuming GMOs, which have never been thoroughly evaluated for safety.
GMO Inside (which represents over 125,000 consumers and nonprofit groups) is calling on General Mills to be a leader in its industry by being the first major food corporation to announce a phase-out of GM ingredients, starting with Cheerios. This change would create ripple effects up the supply chain that will lead to increasing acres of cropland being converted to less destructive, less risky, and less corporate-dominated non-GMO farming techniques.