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General Mills Rejects GMO Ban

CheeriosThe majority of participating shareholders — 97.8 percent — at General Mills’ annual shareholder meeting Tuesday rejected a proposal to ban genetically modified organisms from all of its brands, according to the LA Times.

Earlier this year the company removed genetically modified ingredients from its well-known cereal brand Cheerios and also agreed to an $820 million deal for Annie’s Homegrown, the California-based maker of natural and organic pastas, meals and snacks.

The decision to remove bioengineered ingredients from its plain Cheerios line was applauded by some food policy advocates, but General Mills said it hasn’t translated into higher sales.

The push to remove all bioengineered ingredients at the company originated from shareholder Harriett Crosby, the great-granddaughter of the company’s co-founder. Crosby argued that GMOs harm the company’s brand and reputation and pose a risk to public health.

Crosby was countered by the National Center for Public Policy Research, which urged General Mills shareholders to reject Crosby’s proposal.

The company says it has studied the research on GMOs and is convinced they are safe, adding that consumers who want to avoid GMOs have the choice to buy organic, and consumer choice is what will ultimately drive company decisions.

General Mills has made a number of sustainability efforts recently. Earlier this year it announced it will source 100 percent of its palm oil from responsible and sustainable sources by 2015.

In addition, earlier this month it confirmed it will not source vanilla flavor produced through synthetic biology for Häagen-Dazs ice cream, which it produces outside of North America. Although synthetic biology could reduce land impact by producing products in labs rather than in farm fields, advocacy groups are concerned that synthetic biology could ultimately speed the destruction of bio-diverse areas.

Photo Credit: Cheerios by Tyler McKay/Shutterstock.com

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2 thoughts on “General Mills Rejects GMO Ban

  1. No wonder sales haven’t increased. No one knew about this decision with the Cheerios. GM needs to give it time, for the word to get out. Sales will increase. I applaud their effort, however more should be done with their other cereals.

  2. The GMO argument isn’t about product safety, and that’s why General Mills isn’t seeing any increased sales. It’s about protecting biodiversity down the line and avoiding the risk of reduced crop protection over time.

    General Mills does’t understand this since it treated the Cheerios switch as a consumer research pilot and not a holistic strategy. Promote someone with an ecology background beyond the sustainability department and maybe you’ll start to make the correlation and possibly move the needle on your business strategy, Mr. Powell.

    Oh, and I’d take any “scientific research” done by the climate change deniers over at the National Center for Public Policy Research with a few grains of salt.

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