August 28 2014
Alarmist weren't satisfied when General Mills and Post Foods announced the introduction of GMO-free Cheerios and Grape Nuts (which I wrote about here). Instead, anti-GMO activists responded with calls for more GMO-free food. Their message to these giant food companies: if you can take GMOs out of one of your products, why not all of them? It's a good question: one that many food companies weren’t prepared to answer.
Soon after the change was made, people noticed the companies stripped more than just genetically modified ingredients from these much-loved breakfast foods. According to the folks at the Genetic Literacy Project:
Post Foods’ new non-GMO Grape Nuts no longer include vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12 or vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), while the new non-GMO Original Cheerios no longer have Riboflavin on the ingredients list (the old version has 25% of the daily value in a 28g serving while the new version has 2% of the DV).
Dr. Wayne Parrott, professor of crop science at the University of Georgia, told Elaine Watson at FoodNavigator that "it was depressing to see that the new products are arguably less healthy given the lower vitamin content" adding “Cheerios went from being a major source of vitamin B2 to being almost zip.
And now, it turns out profits for these cereal companies are also less healthy post GMO-removal. According to Forbes contributor Dale Buss, people aren’t interested in non-GMO food.
Take an interesting but little-reported fact that has just emerged: The new, non-GMO version of Cheerios isn’t moving the sales needle significantly for General Mills GIS -0.34% , and the giant cereal company isn’t planning any more non-GMO products after it went to a lot of trouble to source non-GMO Cheerios.
But these developments aren’t being reported anywhere other than in FoodBusinessNews.net, which broke the story. The silence that has greeted them is quite a contrast to the enthusiastic echo chamber that was created by legions of news media, from the food trades and way beyond, that last month hailed General Mills’ decision to begin offering its classic Cheerios cereal in mostly-non-GMO form. Soon after, Post Foods said that its Grape-Nuts cereal had been certified GMO-free.
Hopefully food industry executives will learn from this experience. Pandering to radical food activists gets you one thing: declining sales. Consumers should also note that backing these nonsensical initiatives (like voting to ban GMO products) gets them higher prices for inferior products.