As a consumer concerned about my family’s health, and a citizen concerned about the environment, I’m glad that you have reformulated your original Cheerios brand to be non-GMO. However, this one small change falls far short of what General Mills can, and should do.
I was disappointed when General Mills spent millions to defeat GMO labeling initiatives in California and Washington State. And I’m disappointed that here in the U.S. your company continues to market cereals—especially to children—that contain genetically modified organisms, when you sell non-GMO versions of these same products in other countries.
General Mills could take a leadership position and announce plans to phase out all GMO ingredients over time. Such a plan would create a market for non-GMO corn, soy and sugar beets, among others. Your company could also label all your products that do contain GMOs, until they are phased out.
Instead, General Mills is profiting off of the anticipated growth in sales of non-GMO foods, while at the same time spending millions to defeat labeling laws. Ridding the original Cheerios brand of GMOs, and then putting a label on the box that says “not made with genetically modified ingredients” is nothing more than a marketing ploy designed to grow sales. And an especially hypocritical move, given the company’s investment in keeping GMO labels off of all of your other products.
Please consider getting GMOs out of all of your products, or at least labeling the ones that do contain GMOs. Better yet, please go organic!
Organic Consumers Association
General Mills has so far spent almost $2 million to keep GMO labels off its GMO-contaminated products. Now the junk-food cereal maker hopes to cash in on a new label on its original Cheerios that touts, of all things, "no GMOs."
Tell General Mills and Cheerios: Please Label All of your Products that Contain GMOs. Better Yet, Get GMOs Out of All your Brands!
Last week (Jan. 2), General Mills announced on its website that its "familiar yellow boxes of original Cheerios now say "not made with genetically modified ingredients." Why the change? "We did it because we think consumers may embrace it."
We think they did it to make more money. (The non-GMO foods market is forecast to grow 13 percent annually, and make up about 30 percent of food and beverage sales—totaling $264 billion—by 2017, according to Packaged Facts).
But we also think their reasons were more complicated than that. We think the move is part of the food industry's scheme to preempt state labeling laws with a weak, watered-down federal "solution" to GMO labeling. Why? Because nowhere does General Mills state that the company will verify that Cheerios is GMO-free, either through a system of signed affidavits or a third-party testing mechanism, such as the Non-GMO Project.
Nope. General Mills just wants you to believe them, praise them, even, for making Cheerios GMO-free. Without having to verify that they've changed one single ingredient.
We also think that a company as big as General Mills can do a lot better than profiting off of the anti-GMO movement (while spending millions to defeat it) by making a small, largely insignificant change to a popular product whose nutritional profile is weak to begin with.
For starters, the cereal maker should stop pouring millions into campaigns to defeat GMO labeling laws. The company spent $1.2 million in California to defeat proposition 37, and another $598,819 in Washington State (illegally laundered through the Grocery Manufacturers Association) to defeat I-522. Now it wants our praise for what is clearly a marketing ploy?
Next, General Mills should get GMOs out of all of its products—just like it has kept GMOs out of all the products it sells in the European Union. But when questioned by the media about going non-GMO with other brands, the company said:
"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."
Difficult? Initially, maybe. But impossible? We all know the rules of supply and demand. If companies like General Mills demand non-GMO ingredients for their products, those ingredients will show up in the market. And prices will eventually be competitive.
But instead of pressuring the marketplace for non-GMO sources, the company plans to continue selling GMO-contaminated junk cereals, such as Honey Nut Cheerios, Wheaties, Trix, Kix, Chex and Lucky Charms—brands that clearly target kids.
General Mills is sticking to its story that GMOs are perfectly safe. The company is just eliminating the tiny bit of GMO-tainted cornstarch and sugar in its original Cheerios. Because, well, it's good publicity, no?
What we'd really like to see is for General Mills to make its Cheerios brand—and all of its brands—GMO-free. Or better yet, organic!