DES MOINES, Iowa (NAFB) – You probably didn’t even know it, but biotech corn starch used to be in your Cheerios.
Now, General Mills is taking it out. Post Foods says Grape Nuts are also now GMO free, and will even bear the Non-GMO Project Verfied seal on new boxes, starting this month.
Urging cereal manufacturers to step away from GMO ingredients are activist groups like GMO Inside, which is currently pushing for the removal of GMOs from Honey Nut Cheerios, claiming that sugar in them likely comes from sugar beets patented by Monsanto.
American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says farmers aren’t opposed to biotech-free products; they’re just opposed to the idea of mandatory labels.
“It’s not that the mechanisms are not out there to do it,” says Stallman. “What we oppose in our policy are mandatory labeling schemes that aren’t related to nutritional value and things that you normally expect to find on a food label.”
While he does believe consumers want to know more about the food they buy, and that agriculture has a responsibility to be more transparent, Stallman alleges the groups pushing this issue aren’t interested in helping consumers get more information.
“The reality is that a lot of these groups that are pushing these labeling things really don’t want a solution. The activity and the action continues to be a mechanism for them to maintain their organizations and maintain their funds, and so the fight’s going to continue, but we’re going to be there every step of the way.”
Ballot referendums calling for mandatory labels have been tried and defeated in two states; two Congressmen recently called for federal legislation to mandate GMO labels, but Stallman doesn’t think that’s likely.
“That issue is going to continue to be debated, discussed, fought out in the states,” Stallman says. “The industry itself is trying to assess in terms of federal legislation what maybe could happen that would help resolve some of these issues.”