“As a marketing move, pulling GMOs from Cheerios may be exploitative. But it also makes sense.” (Wired)
General Mills quietly announced it would drop the (unlabeled) genetically modified sugar beets used in its flagship Cheerios cereal, and replace it with cane sugar, while its large array of other cereal and food products — including other Cheerios varieties — would remain largely artificial and full of genetically modified ingredients.
Such are the metered semi-victories for consumers seeking better ingredients and more transparency in their foods, more or less dominated by mega-consortium Big Agra companies with mad love for cheap GMO fodder and ignorant, hungry customers easily enticed by artificial flavors and bold advertising.
A distinction: though the box will carry a label next to the ingredients that says it is not made with genetically modified ingredients, it will not be labeled “Non-GMO” (such as the labels sponsored by the Non-GMO Project Verified which verifies ingredients after testing). The label will read:
“Not made with genetically modified ingredients. Trace amounts of genetically modified (also known as “genetically engineered”) material may be present due to potential cross contact during manufacturing and shipping.”
Buried at the bottom of a General Mills “On GMOs” page which goes out of its way to vouch for the (untested and unproven) safety of genetically modified foods – which it admits are in about 70% of all foods – is a slippery endorsement for “transparency” in foods and labeling of Non-GMO foods.
“In the spirit of transparency, we’ve enrolled several products – especially our organic products – in the U.S. Non-GMO Project. We oppose state-based labeling, but we support nationally standardized labeling of non-GMO products in the U.S., where there has generally been no requirement for special labeling.”
It all sounds very responsible.
But what are they really saying?
• This major Big Agra player admits they oppose state-based labeling of GMO foods outright
• The only “transparency” it supports is for voluntarily enrolled (mainly) organic products (from specialty product lines) into the Non-GMO Project.
• It supports labeling on a national basis – but only of Non-GMO products, in a legal atmosphere which actually requires no special labeling requirements.
• i.e. This language would give the impression they support using Non-GMO Labels primarily as a marketing tool to advertise specialty organic options, while keeping the true ingredients of the majority of products – frequently made with GMO ingredients – under wraps, off of labels, and out of most shoppers minds.
The Organic VS. GMO Double Game
As important as it is to have USDA-certified “organic” options that allow consumers to avoid the widely-pervasive GMO epidemic taking over grocery store shelves, there is a major deception at play here.
The same Big Agra companies who have sourced genetically modified ingredients (to save $$$, etc.) and allowed them to infiltrate the food supply have, in many ways, taken over or outright purchased the Organic food market. The major corporations who arguably own and control the population at large make money on the way up AND down of any major problem, bubble or trend. This is the essence of working inside the Hegelian Dialectic, which creates a new reality (synthesis) by reconciling two opposites (thesis and antithesis).
Inside modern markets, widespread opposition to GMO foods, and concern about their health and safety (see: 65 Health Risks of GMO), have created a new market opportunity in Organic foods – which are sold at a premium to a niche of mostly educated and well-funded consumers. Increasingly, this sub-market is prodded and cued by specialty labels, all while the general population is forced to eat GMOs without being properly informed that they are regularly in most of the foods available on the shelves, at a price that most can afford.
As Wired Magazine points out: “General Mills isn’t suddenly against GMOs. It’s simply exploiting consumer fears to sell more cereal.”
Instead, they dubbed it a ‘token anti-GMO gesture’ to appeal strictly to consumer desires for safe and healthy foods. Yet, at the same time, General Mills stated “It was never about pressure. In fact, General Mills’ position on GMOs hasn’t changed.”
Wired correctly summarizes the whole illusory position of this food conglomerate, along with most others:
If General Mills were really serious about curtailing GMOs, which it already says it’s not, the company would drop them from products made mainly from corn and soy, two of the country’s leading genetically modified crops. Cheerios were an easy, visible product to use for a token anti-GMO gesture because, as General Mills says, the main ingredient was never made from GMOs anyway. If you’re against GMOs, buying more Cheerios now is hardly striking a blow for the cause.
If you support GMOs, you should hardly be placated by the company’s assurance that it’s still on your side. Pulling GMOs from Cheerios, an iconic American brand, is a public relations victory for the anti-GMO side.