MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills’ announcement that it has cut genetically modified ingredients from original Cheerios is a huge victory for the non-GMO movement, according to the group that pushed for the change.

“This victory sends a message to all food companies that consumers are increasingly looking for non-GMO products and companies need to meet that demand,” Todd Larsen, corporate responsibility director, Green America, Washington, said in a statement. Green America is a social and environmental organization.


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The formula for original Cheerios remains the same, but General Mills made sourcing and plant handling changes in to ensure that the corn starch for original Cheerios comes only from non-GMO corn, and sugar is only non-GMO pure cane sugar, the company said. The main ingredient — whole grain oats — has always been GMO-free, according to General Mills.

One year ago, in November 2012, Green America’s “GMO Inside” campaign starting calling on consumers to put pressure on General Mills to make Cheerios without GMOs due to concerns over the health and environmental impacts of GMOs. In October 2013, GMO Inside issued a corporate responsibility report for General Mills, and called on consumers to email and call the General Mills to remove GMOs from Cheerios. GMO Inside also created a YouTube video highlighting the GMOs in Cheerios.

General Mills maintains, however, the change is not a result of pressure.

Read more: GMO Labeling Supporters Not Backing Down

“In fact, this change is not much of a change at all. The product is essentially the same,” Tom Forsythe, VP of global communications, wrote in a blog. “The simple and unique nature of Cheerios made it possible — and we think consumers may embrace it.”

Only original Cheerios has gone GMO-free, as other Cheerios varieties use grains like corn that may be grown from GM seed.

“For our other cereals, the widespread use of GM seed in crops such as corn, soy or beet sugar would make reliably moving to non-GM ingredients difficult, if not impossible,” according to an online statement.

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