Responding to consumer spending, food giant, General Mills (GIS) announced
that it would begin producing its original Cheerios breakfast cereal in
the U.S. with no genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Sales of Cheerios
were down 7% in 2013 according to the market research firm IRI. Europe
has banned some GMOs and requires labeling on any GMO products. Non-GMO
Cheerios have been sold in Europe, and General Mills has received criticism
for not offering the same product in the U.S.
Cheerios’ selling point has always been the use of a few simple ingredients
- Whole Grain Oats
- Salt Tripotassium Phosphate (which is a chemical emulsifier)
- Wheat Starch
- Vitamins and Minerals
By removing the GMOs, General Mills will have to find sources for cornstarch
and sugar. In the U.S, 86% of all corn grown is genetically modified and
95% of all sugar beets are genetically modified, as well.
General Mills is hoping that new marketing strategies will improve sales.
Many companies have suffered a consumer backlash after the Grocery Manufacturers
Associations (GMAs) spent millions of dollars opposing Prop 37 in California,
and Initiative 522 in Washington State. Both of those measures, if passed,
would have required GMO food and ingredients to be labeled as such. The
food industry feared that consumers would reject GMO foods if they were
properly labeled. Supporters of GMO labeling believe that consumers have
the right to buy anything they want as long as they are able to make an
informed decision about what they are eating and feeding to their families.
Are GMOs Safe?
There is continual debate about the hazards and benefits of GMO foods,
but the problem is – no one really knows if they are safe or not.
The first GMOs were introduced in the early 1990’s and since then,
many varieties have come and gone as they either failed with consumers,
or they didn’t demonstrate the qualities their creators had hoped
for. There was the Flavr Savr (Flavor Saver) Tomato that was on the market
from 1991 until 1997, when it was removed after experiencing low sales.
It was designed to stay firm while withstanding the abuse of storage and
shipping. Another tomato that never made it to market was the infamous
Fish Tomato that had flounder anti-freeze genes implanted in it. As it
turns out, it was not cold tolerant after all.
There are real concerns about GMO technology that inserts Bt toxin into
seeds. Bacillus thuringiensis is a bacterial toxin that kills the insects
that eat the food, by rupturing their stomachs. In the U.S., we consume
vast amounts of Bt Corn, Bt Soy (and Roundup Ready soy) and Bt Cotton.
These three ingredients are in almost all processed foods, as well as
being feed for most of the animal protein Americans consume. Interestingly,
cotton was never a food, but now cottonseed oil is a cheap additive like
the other two. All three of these crops are given price supports (subsidies)
from the government, that guarantee they are over produced. Food manufacturers
have invented ways to convert cheap subsidized crops into something they
now promote as food, or to use their term, “flavor experiences”.
Government Oversight of GMOs
There are many concerns over GMO or Genetically Engineered (GE) foods,
as they are more correctly called. The issues range from direct effects
of eating these engineered foods, to cross-pollination and non-GMO crops
and the chemicals that are used to grow them. No one knows the real, long-term
effects, because there is no meaningful testing being done to determine
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the
Center for Disease Control (CDC) are the government agencies tasked with
overseeing the U.S. food system. With this army of government employees,
there should be some definitive results on food safety, but they are mute.
The FDA puts the testing and reporting into the hands of the companies
that manufacture these products and profit from them, they promote the
The FDA refuses to set any guidelines for GMOs by blessing them with the
desirable “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) standard.
Food and food additives are subject to review and approval by the FDA
unless they are considered GRAS, then the FDA provides no oversight. GMOs
were considered GRAS almost immediately and have never been scrutinized
by the FDA since, based on the FDA determination that GMOs are the “substantial
equivalence” to other food crops.
GMO And Product Liability
One of the compelling arguments for labeling GMOs is that people have no
idea what they are consuming and if the consumption of these products
has any adverse effects, short-term or long-term, they can never be compensated
for their injuries. In 2000, the GMO corn “Starlink” accidently
entered the food supply, even though it was not approved for human consumption.
This was used in more than 300 products before the problem was discovered.
Many people had adverse effects from eating the “Starlink”
corn, but the FDA had a very difficult time proving anything. The corn
was put into taco shells that Taco Bell used. Even though the victims
had no evidence to prove a case, Taco Bell franchises were awarded more
than $60 million for the damage caused to their name.
How many illnesses might be the direct result of eating Bt corn, Bt soy,
or Bt cottonseed oil? No one knows, and that is a tragedy. Several studies
have found links between GMO food and cancerous tumors. Other links have
been found between GMOs and “Leaky Gut Syndrome.” Leaky Gut
is a condition where small tears in the intestinal lining and bowel allow
larger particles of food to pass through. The body does not identify these
large particles as proper and attacks them. This continual internal battle
leads to inflammation, and many other ailments.
Since Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) kills the insects that eat it, by causing
their stomachs to rupture, it begs the question, how much Bt does a human
have to consume before they experience some adverse digestive problems.
If you have suffered a
personal injury, contact
The Kyle Law Firm today for a consultation.