General Mills has stopped using genetically modified ingredients to make original Cheerios, following a yearlong effort by a consumer activist group to pressure the company to drop GMOs from its iconic breakfast cereal.
The food giant says its principal ingredient has always been whole grain oats, not GMO oats. General Mills has switched to non-GMO corn for the small amount of corn starch it uses and non-GMO pure cane sugar, the company says.
The formula for original Cheerios has not changed, although the company now separates cane sugar from beet sugar, according to General Mills. The company says it took one year and “significant investment” to make the original Cheerios GMO-free. The switch won’t happen with more complex varieties of Cheerios because the widespread use of genetically modified seed in crops such as corn, soy or beet sugar would make reliably moving to non-GMO ingredients difficult, if not impossible, General Mills says.
GMO Inside, an anti-GMO campaign organized by members of Green America, encouraged consumers to post messages on Cheerios’ Facebook page calling for the cereal to be GMO free. The campaign received more than 40,000 posts on Cheerios Facebook page, according to the organizers.
This successful campaign follows failed effort by activists to pass initiatives in California and more recently in Washington that would have required labeling of many genetically engineered foods.
Food and biotech companies including Monsanto and DuPont de Nemours donated more than $17 million to defeat the I-522 proposition in Washington, which was on the November 2013 ballot.
A number of food and beverage companies including General Mills, Abbott Laboratories, Kraft Foods Group, Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo funded a previous campaign opposing a nearly identical referendum in California.
Photo Credit: General Mills