The Wall Street Journal reports that General Mills has begun making Cheerios free of genetically engineered ingredients. As we showed in our report, “Initiative 522: Costly, Flawed and Ill-Conceived,” genetically engineered foods are safe and widely used. I-522 would have required mandatory labeling of certain foods made with genetically engineered ingredients, but Washington voters rejected the initiative. Our report outlined the many reasons to do so, one of which was that there are already a number of market-driven ways that consumers can get non-GE foods if they wish.
The news from General Mills shows how difficult and costly a mandatory scheme would have been:
“There is broad consensus that food containing GMOs is safe, but we decided to move forward with this in response to consumer demand,” said Mike Siemienas, spokesman for General Mills.
The Minneapolis-based company said it chose Cheerios because the primary ingredient is oats, a crop that isn’t grown from genetically modified seeds, so the transition just required it to find new sources of cornstarch and sugar.
“Even that required significant investment,” Mr. Siemienas said. He didn’t provide a figure, but said that the hurdles would make it “difficult, if not impossible” to make Honey Nut Cheerios and other varieties without GMOs.
(For the record, as a Cheerios consumer, I see no reason to change the product at all.)