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After pressure from consumers and activist groups, General Mills has announced that it will no longer use genetically modified ingredients to make Cheerios cereal. The company said that it has already begun making the changes, but didn’t make the announcement until late Thursday.
General Mills said that the oats used to make Cheerios didn’t have genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but the sugar did, according to USA Today. The company will now use non-GMO pure cane sugar rather than beet sugar.
Spokesman Mike Siemienas said that they had stated using non-GMO ingredients “many weeks” ago. “We do value our Cheerios fans and we do listen to their thoughts and suggestions,” he added.
The Associated Press notes that the change followed Green America’s GMO Inside campaign, which urged people to leave comments on General Mills’ Cheerios Facebook page. Todd Larsen of Green America told the AP that the move is “an important victory in getting GMOs out of our food supply and an important first step for General Mills.”
However, the change doesn’t affect the other Cheerios varieties, which would not be as easy to make without GMOs, Siemienas told the AP. Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Multi-Grain Cheerios and other flavors include ingredients like corn.
Consumers and advocates alike have expressed concern about the effects GMOs have on the environment and people, even if there isn’t much scientific evidence that they are harmful. Still, activists are pressuring companies to drop them or label their products if they have them.