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News Link • Food

Love or Hate Mutant Cereal, GMO-Free Cheerios Are an Empty Gesture

•, By Marcus Wohlsen
 Some anti-GMO activists are praising the move, which also includes labeling boxes of the company’s flagship cereal as GMO-free. But whichever side of the GMO debate you’re on, you should see the General Mills campaign for what it is: an elegant piece of corporate doublespeak that’s completely devoid of substance.

In a blog post, General Mills’ vice president of global communications Tom Forsyth writes that Cheerios haven’t changed that much, despite the new labeling. Oats are the main ingredient in Cheerios, and Forsyth points out that genetically modified oats don’t even exist. What’s changed, he says, is that the small amounts of corn starch and sugar in Cheerios will no longer come from genetically modified crops.

“Why change anything at all?” Forsyth writes. “It’s simple. We did it because we think consumers may embrace it.”

That may be true, but it’s hardly a bold stance. Yes, wariness of GMOs as food remains strong, even as such crops have become a staple of U.S. agriculture over the past two decades. An overwhelming majority of respondents to a New York Times poll this summer, for instance, said they supported the labeling of products containing genetically modified ingredients. But General Mills isn’t suddenly against GMOs. It’s simply exploiting consumer fears to sell more cereal.

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