It’s America’s #1 breakfast cereal: Honey Nut GMOs.
Over 6 million people start their day with Honey Nut Cheerios. However, growing consumer concern about genetically modified foods is creating a new kind of buzz around General Mills’ top-selling product.
While oats, which are not genetically modified, are the primary ingredient in Honey Nut Cheerios, the second and third ingredients listed on the box are sugar and corn starch. Along with Vitamin E (which is used to preserve freshness), “natural” flavors, and canola oil, these ingredients are most likely derived from genetically modified sources.
GMO Insiders took the food industry by storm in 2012, when the campaign to remove GMOs from original yellow-box Cheerios began. Just one year later, after a groundswell of consumer demand, General Mills announced its decision to remove GMOs from Cheerios, which took a year of investment and changes in operation. Non-GMO Cheerios are expected to hit shelves in early 2014.
So what about Honey Nut Cheerios? While original Cheerios contains only one gram of sugar per serving, Honey Nut Cheerios contains nine times the amount of sugar. Though not specified on the box, a majority of processed sugar comes from sugar beets, which are mostly genetically modified. Take this statistic, for example: In 2010, 95% of the sugar beets grown in the U.S. were Monsanto patented.
Honey Nut Cheerios likely contains more GMOs than original Cheerios ever did, considering its high sugar content and the inclusion of corn starch, Vitamin E, “natural” flavors, and canola oil.
Removing GMOs from original Cheerios was the first step in the right direction, but General Mills must continue its response to consumer demand by removing GMOs from Honey Nut Cheerios and getting third-party verification.
Bee Happy, Bee Healthy? While General Mills promotes the health benefits of Honey Nut Cheerios for their whole grain oats, it is silent about the fact that its other ingredients such as sugar, corn starch, vitamin E, brown sugar syrup, and canola, are at high risk for containing GMOs. Many of General Mills’ other cereals and brands also contain GMOs.
While continuing to use genetically modified ingredients in products sold in the United States and Canada, General Mills offers non-GMO Honey Nut Cheerios to consumers in Europe. Most industrialized countries have required GMO labeling for years. In Europe, General Mills manufactures all flavors of Cheerios without GMOs, or if it sells Cheerios in Europe that are manufactured in North America, the product is labeled as “likely containing GMOs.”
Additionally, General Mills has spent over a million dollars in the past two years blocking GMO labeling laws. In Washington State, General Mills funded 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 has been sued for violating campaign finance laws in Washington state by attempting to shield the identities of its donor companies. Meanwhile, polls from the New York Times and ABC News show more than 93 percent Americans support the labeling of GMOs.
A growing body of studies is raising concerns around the impact of GMOs and the corresponding increase in pesticide use on human health, the environment, and most recently, pollinators. In addition to removing GMOs from Honey Nut Cheerios, we are asking General Mills to remove GMOs from its other cereals, make a long-term commitment to sourcing ingredients that reduce toxic pesticide usage, and put a call out to suppliers to phase out pesticides posing the greatest risk to human and pollinator health, starting with atrazine, neonicotinoids, and glyphosate.
GMO Inside (which represents over 200,000 consumers and nonprofit groups) is calling on General Mills to be a true leader in its industry by removing GMOs from Honey Nut Cheerios, getting third-party verification, and working to reduce pesticide use. By pioneering this change, General Mills can help increase the number of cropland acres converted to less destructive, less risky, and less corporate-dominated non-GMO agriculture.
GMO Inside is calling on General Mills, which claims to be a responsible company making products that nourish lives, to align its actions with its declared core values. General Mills needs to take proactive steps to address the issue of GMOs in all levels of its operations.
GMO Inside is asking General Mills to be a leader by:
1. Removing GMOs from Honey Nut Cheerios
a) Building on its removal of GMOs from Cheerios, General Mills needs to remove GMOs from Honey Nut Cheerios (by 2015). General Mills will responsibly source its products’ ingredients from sources that are certified non-GMO or organic.
b) General Mills will commit to and publish a timeline with incremental deadlines to shift its entire portfolio of foods to non-GMO sources by 2018 (including all Cheerios varieties, all cereals, and all other food categories.)
2. Seeking third-party verification and repeating with other General Mills products
a) Third-party verification is necessary to validate non-GMO claims for any General Mills products that remove genetically modified ingredients.
b) Removing GMOs and getting third-party verification should be repeated with the rest of General Mills’ products.
3. Ending all opposition to genuine GMO labeling
a) General Mills will commit to spend no money against state and federal GMO labeling initiatives going forward (including any funds channeled through third parties).
b) General Mills will discontinue its involvement in lobbying for a single labeling standard that would nullify state-labeling laws and allow GMO foods to be called “natural”.
4. Reducing pesticide use through ingredients suppliers
a) General Mills will make a public announcement of support on the company’s website in 2014 of the necessity of reducing atrazine, neonicotinoids, and glyphosate for human, animal, and environmental health.
b) General Mills will call on its suppliers to develop a phase-out plan over the next five years for the pesticides listed above.
 NY Times
Call General Mills at (800) 248 - 7310
January 18, 2014