All GMO ingredients have been removed from original Cheerios cereal. General Mills specifically stated that they have replaced the type of corn and sugar cane used in the popular product.
GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are plants and animals that are enhanced through biotechnology or bioengineering. The process essentially creates a new species by altering the DNA. Although the process is intended to produce enhanced products, it is often criticized as unnatural and unhealthy.
General Mills spokesman Mike Siemienas said the change is limited to original Cheerios. Other varieties, including Apple Cinnamon and Honey Nut Cheerios, will continue using the modified ingredients. Siemienas said changing the ingredients in the other varieties will be "difficult, if not impossible."
As reported by CNN, the recipe for Cheerios has not changed; they simply switched to "non-GMO corn and non-GMO pure cane sugar." The changes do not change the flavor of the cereal. Siemienas said the ingredients were replaced in the last year. Although the cost was significant, he said the changes were prompted by consumers "thoughts and suggestions."
Representatives with several activist groups said consumers pressured General Mills into making the change. GMO Inside co-founder John Roulac said the change was a "huge victory for the non-GMO movement."
USA Today reports that concerns about genetically modified products persist despite "little scientific proof that products with GMOs are less safe." A significant amount of fear is perpetuated by activist groups, who claim the modified products are unhealthy and potentially dangerous.
Consumer fear has prompted numerous manufacturers and distributors to exclude genetically modified ingredients from their products. Most recently, Kashi and Chipotle have committed to removing modified ingredients from most, if not all, of their products.
Whole Foods has also responded to consumers' concerns. Beginning in 2018, all products sold at Whole Foods must be labeled to indicate whether they contain GMOs.
General Mills most likely will not change all of their products. However, their original Cheerios are now GMO free.
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