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Cheerios now to be GMO Free?

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In a sober and sensible post on the Cheerios website, General Mills, maker of Cheerios, announced yesterday that “we don’t use genetically modified ingredients in original Cheerios.”

The Cheerios Facebook page has been under an irrational and relentless attack by anti-GMO partisans for the past month or two, with the opponents claiming some 40,000 anti-Cheerios comments, some extremely hostile but barely rational.

However, those days are over as Cheerios now has capitulated.

Or have they?

Slipping the purple enchilada to the opponents, Cheerios points out that Cheerios are made from oats, and there are no genetically modified oat crops. Then they point out that two minor ingredients may have come from GMO crops:

We use a small amount of corn starch in cooking, and just one gram of sugar per serving for taste. But our corn starch comes from non-GMO corn, and we use only non-GMO pure cane sugar.

This is a manufacturing change, of course.

We did make some changes in sourcing and in our plants – for example, to separate cane sugar from beet sugar.

So they solved the problem internally by switching to cane sugar, and non GMO cornstarch.

However, they take pains to point out right at the top of the page that

Biotech seeds, also known as GMOs, have been approved by global food safety agencies and widely used by farmers in global food crops for almost 20 years. In fact, GMOs are present in 70-80% of foods consumed in the U.S. today – and have been for years.

And

“There is broad consensus among major global scientific and regulatory bodies that approved genetically modified foods are safe.”

They also point out that GMO ingredients will continue to be part of other versions of Cheerios, which contain corn, since nearly 90% of all corn grown in the US is genetically modified. In Europe, where fewer GMO crops are grown (MON810 is approved to combat corn rootworm) Cheerios can be made from non GMO crops. This would not be possible in the US.

Cheerios does not take the trouble to point out that beet sugar and cane sugar are chemically identical, and indistinguishable. The idea that sugar from GMO sugar beets is somehow tainted amounts to the worst kind of magical thinking. In fact since cornstarch contains no genetic material, this really doesn’t matter either.

And, of course Cheerios closes by linking to some actual science information:

For further information about the safety of biotech crops, we invite you to visit www.factsaboutgmos.org, the European Food Safety Authority, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or the U.N. World Health Organization.

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