Original Cheerios, one of America’s favorite breakfast cereals, will now be GMO-free. In a major move, General Mills posted on its website today that original Cheerios are no longer made with genetically modified ingredients.
The company explains that the oats used in Cheerios were never genetically modified, but that the corn starch is now non-GMO:
It’s the unique and simple nature of original Cheerios that made this possible – and even that required significant investment over nearly a year. Cheerios’ principal ingredient has always been whole grain oats, and there are no GMO oats. We use just a small amount of corn starch in cooking, and just one gram of sugar per serving for taste. So 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.
General Mills will not be making other varieties of Cheerios GMO-free. “For our other 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,” the website says. A Cheerios spokesperson confirmed this decision to The Huffington Post.
In November 2012, a group called Inside GMO launched a campaign to get Cheerios to become GMO-free. The campaign moved thousands to express their discontent over GMO ingredients in the cereal on Cheerios’ Facebook page.
Considering General Mills has spent millions of dollars to combat labeling GMOs, the move is somewhat unexpected. In 2012, the company paid $1.1 million dollars to fight Proposition 37 in California, which called for mandatory labeling of genetically modified food. The company clarified its stance on labeling on its website, however. It is behind a “national solution” for GMO-labeling, but against state-by-state legislation.
Last year was a contentious one for GMOs. A high profile ballot measure to require GMO labeling was rejected in Washington state. Connecticut and Maine made major strides toward labeling laws. And Whole Foods announced it would be phasing out GMO food that wasn’t labeled — and dropping Chobani as a result.
Green America Corporate Responsibility Director Todd Larsen highlighted what General Mills’ decision means in a press release. “Original Cheerios in its famous yellow box will now be non-GMO and this victory sends a message to all food companies that consumers are increasingly looking for non-GMO products and companies need to meet that demand,” he said.
Correction: This article originally said General Mills paid $1.1 dollars to fight Proposition 37, when if fact it paid $1.1 million dollars.