General Mills—a multinational food company that spent over $1.7 million to destroy campaigns to label foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—announced that Cheerios will now be made GMO-free.
In a Jan. 2 blog post announcing the change, General Mills’ vice president of Global Communications Tom Forsythe said Cheerios main ingredient—whole grain oats—has always been GMO-free, since there are no GMO oats. Other ingredients such as corn starch, canola, and sugar, however, likely came from bioengineered sources.
“What changed is how we source and handle certain ingredients in our plants,” Forsythe wrote.
Europe and other countries with GMO labeling requirements have had GMO-free Cheerios for years. If the Cheerios made in North America were sold in Europe they would be labeled as “likely containing GMOs.”
Other General Mills cereals—including Honey Nut Cheerios—will not get the GMO-free makeover, according to the company.
Consumers suspicious of genetically modified ingredients began putting pressure on General Mills in November in 2012, when it was revealed that the company poured over $1 million to sink a California ballot initiative to label GMOs. General Mills spent nearly half a million dollars against a similar initiative in Washington state in 2013.
But General Mills says the change isn’t about biotechnology safety or consumer pressure. According to Forsythe, “We did it because we think consumers may embrace it.”