General Mills learns about the shelf life of failed GMO ballot initiatives

“No more GMOs in your Cheerios,” shouts this L.A. Times article today.

General Mills has announced that it will stop using bioengineered corn  starch and sugar cane in its core cereal brand after a year-long campaign by Green America, a nonprofit  organization that “mobilizes people in their economic roles” to act individually and collectively on environmental sustainability issues.

The cereal  company said that it believes GMO foods are safe and that it wasn’t reacting to outside pressure, simply stating that “we believe consumers will embrace it.”

General Mills drops GMOs from Cheerios

Picking up a theme raised in this earlier post, the InsideGMO campaign used Facebook to urge consumers to contact General Mills about their GMO concerns.  Just as important as the medium is the timing.  The  campaign followed California’s failed 2012 ballot initiative, Prop 37.  Campaign leaders contend that their success “shows consumers that their voice does make a difference.  Collective action makes a difference. The ballot actions added awareness and  created frustration.”

Up to 80% of processed foods in the United States contain genetically engineered  ingredients, yet a June ABC News poll found that 52% of its respondents view GMOs as unsafe and 93% favor labeling laws.

Interestingly, this Cheerios announcement comes after General Mills spent almost $2  million opposing the California and Washington ballot initiatives.  The Center for Food Safety sees the cereal company’s move as appeasing the customers it angered by helping to defeat the two props.  “The real pressure is that the industry has to  spend millions on every state to defeat labeling . . . and . . . when these major companies recognize their brand  reputation is on the line the more they funnel money into these anti-consumer  campaigns.”

Stay tuned.  Oregon and Colorado could be the next locales for GMO labeling initiatives at the ballot box.  And while consumers are fighting for their food preferences at the point-of-sale end of the pipeline, the USDA acted yesterday to provide even more GMO corn and soybean seeds to farmers – and eventually, to food processors like General Mills!


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