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 including:
- 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 their safety.
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 biotech industry.
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.