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In a major product development move that could impact other leading CPG brands, General Mills has announced it has removed genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from its iconic Cheerios cereal brand.
“It’s the unique and simple nature of original Cheerios that made this possible -- and even that required significant investment over nearly a year,” said General Mills, in an online FAQ section. “We were able to change how we source and handle ingredients to ensure that the corn starch for original Cheerios comes only from non-GMO corn, and our sugar is only non-GMO pure cane sugar.”
The oats used to make Cheerios have never contained any (GMOs), the company said.
Over the last few years, consumer and activist groups have increased pressure calling for food manufacturers to remove GMOs from their products -- or, at the very least, label all foods that contain GMOs.
One such group, GMO Inside, said its campaign garnered 40,000 Facebook posts from consumers who wanted General Mills to make Cheerios non-GMO.
The food industry has consistently maintained that there is no scientific proof that products made with GMOs are less safe.
Last year, Whole Foods became the first national grocery chain to require all of its suppliers to label all products that contain GMOs by 2018.
General Mills said it has no plans to phase out GMOs from its other cereals in the U.S, even though most Cheerios varieties sold in Europe are made without GMOs. "For our other (non-organic) cereals, 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," said the company, in a statement.
John W Roulac, GMO Inside co-founder and co-chair, said, "This is a huge victory for the non-GMO movement ... History is being made today and more food brands will rush toward non-GMO foods."