Concerned foodies and GMO-activists are making progress in the fight against genetically modified foods. Recently, General Mills announced its decision to remove all genetically modified ingredients from its iconoc cereal Cheerios.
So has the United States reached a turning point in the fight over genetically engineered ingredients?
First, let’s put things in perspective. Cheerios, which in my opinion has zero nutritional value, is largely made of whole grain oats. There aren’t any genetically modified oats, which may be one of the reasons General Mills doesn’t use them. So overall, the only two GMO ingredients in Cheerios were corn starch and mutant sugar. While this is definitely a positive move in the right direction, sister cereals like Honey Nut Cheerios, which are pedaled to children, still contain genetically engineered ingredients. And let’s not forget, all products are created in the same factory where GMO products are produced. So can quality really be guaranteed?
Plus, General Mills’ official position on GMOs maintains that they are safe to eat. Until now, the company has spent millions of dollars opposing GMO labeling initiatives in California and Washington. Could this also have been a marketing ploy?
Last year Ben & Jerry’s removed GMOs from its products, while Chipotle has also announced that it will gradually eliminate genetically modified ingredients from its menu during 2014.
Today, a whopping 80 percent of food products in the United States contain some type of GMO ingredient. This country grows 97.4 million acres of mostly genetically modified corn, and genetically modified soybean comes at a close second with 83.6 million acres. Wheat comes in third.
According to several polls, Americans are in favor of labeling products that contain GMOs. Unfortunately, ballot initiatives in both California and Washington failed to pass, in part due corporations like Monsanto and Pepsico and the millions they spent on defeating them.
With no national labeling laws, it is up to us to continue to educate ourselves, get our voices heard, and read labels!
Maryam Henein is an investigative journalist, professional researcher, and producer of the award-winning documentary Vanishing of the Bees.