General Mills Says Cheers to GMO-Free Cheerios

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Good news: Your favorite toasted whole grain oat cereal is now getting manufactured without GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. Per the Associated PressGeneral Mills (NYSE:GIS) confirmed Thursday that some GMO-free Cheerios will be available for purchase sooner rather than later. Though the company couldn’t specify exactly when shoppers will see the new and improved Cheerios on store shelves, General Mills maintained that it has been testing original-flavor Cheerios without GMOs for several weeks now, and they should make their appearance soon.

According to the Non GMO project, genetically modified organisms are plants or animals with genetic material that has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. More evidence has been cropping up concerning the health risk that foods containing GMOs pose to consumer health, as genetic engineering technology combines DNA from different species and creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding. However, it is still up for debate whether GMOs in food are environmentally safe and safe for human consumption in the long-term.

General Mills has been long been urged to rid its cereal of GMOs, as it is consumed by both children and adults, but the Minneapolis-based company has come under recent pressure after the group Green America started a campaign called GMO Inside, asking General Mills to make Cheerios GMO-free. According to the AP, the group’s campaign led fans to take to the Cheerios page on Facebook and urge the company to start manufacturing GMO-free cereal. As it turns out, the campaign actually worked.

General Mills is now preparing to roll out a new Cheerios box that will come with a “Not Made With Genetically Modified Ingredients” label. Though the company will have to note that trace amounts of GMO ingredients could be present in the cereal due to the manufacturing process, lovers of the original Cheerios will soon be able to eat their favorite breakfast in GMO-free peace.

If you’re a fan of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios or Multi Grain Cheerios, however, you won’t find the label on your box. According to what General Mills spokesman Mike Siemienas told the Associated Press, “We were able to do this with original Cheerios because the main ingredients are oats,” but the same does not apply for other varieties of the cereal. The news service reports that General Mills can make the original Cheerios GMO-free by simply switching the cornstarch and sugar, but other varieties are harder to make sans GMOs because they are made with ingredients like corn.

Now that General Mills has made the GMO-free leap, it’ll be interesting to see how its competitors react. When the company first jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon last year with its cereal offerings, so too did Kellogg’s (NYSE:K), and this trend will likely prove no different. As of now, Kellogg’s has not responded to petitions that demand the company remove GMOs from its products, but GMO-free advocacy groups like GMO Free USA are now orchestrating boycotts of the food manufacturing giant, so changes could be on the horizon.

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