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Cheerios safe for toddlers again: Cheerios drops genetically modified ingredient

Cheerios stops using genetically modified ingredient after consumers, advocates demand it.
Cheerios stops using genetically modified ingredient after consumers, advocates demand it.

Genetically modified food fears has driven consumers and advocates to demand that breakfast cereal Cheerios drop an ingredient used in their breakfast and snack product that could potentially harm toddlers and others. Considered one of the first foods given to toddlers, Consumers rallied together on social media sites a year ago to call for the removal of all genetically engineered ingredients found in the popular morning product, according to USA Today on Jan. 2.

General Mills has finally agreed to remove the biotech food ingredients they used in this particular product, but they insist they have no plans to remove GMOs from any of their other U.S. breakfast cereals. They cited the costliness of replacing GMOs with non-GMO ingredients as the driving factor in that decision for the other products.

The Cheerio cereal does not have as many ingredients (or as costly ones) as their other products, requiring them to only have to replace the genetically modified beet sugar with non-GMO pure cane sugar. They said the oats in the breakfast cereal were never genetically modified.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says foods that are modified genetically have had their DNA changed in some way that does not occur naturally. And they say any GM foods should be thoroughly assessed as safe before being allowed in the marketplace.

WHO offers guidelines for assessing the risk of GM foods, but consumers and advocates who petitioned General Mills to remove the tweaked ingredients from the breakfast cereal were not satisfied with the company following such analysis and guidelines. They didn't want genetically modified ingredients in the cereal at all.

WebMD says that it is likely you have eaten a biotech food (another name for GMOs, as is the term "genetically engineered), and that these same people don't even know they have eaten the tweaked product. In fact, they estimate that 60 to 70 percent of the processed foods sitting on grocery store shelves have been genetically modified, including some baby foods.

A recent study by the Food Policy Institute showed that only 52 percent of Americans realized GM foods are sold in grocery stores and only 26 percent of them believed that they had eaten genetically modified foods at some time. And maybe more shocking is that these numbers reflect only a 6 percent increase in awareness about GM foods since 2001.

While the U.S. produces the most modified foods in the world, now joined by countries like China, India and Mexico in doing so, the EU takes a different approach, according to WebMD, stating that they feel the risk to health and environment outweigh any benefits of providing more food for a growing food demand.

Toddlers often munch on General Mill Cheerios cereal when they are cutting their teeth. But young children eat the cereal for breakfast at schools all over the country. And many adults who are concerned about heart health eat it too. So it was a good decision that the breakfast manufacturer listened to their consumers and replaced the ingredients that make some have "Frankenfood fears," since no one can say if GMs are safe or not.

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