General Mills Pulls GMOs From Original Cheerios
A new year meant a new formula for a classic cereal. For most of 2013, conscientious consumers led by Green America’s GMO Inside campaign kept pressure on General Mills to remove genetically modified ingredients from its iconic brand, Cheerios. And it worked—the company announced the change on Jan. 2.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
General Mills—which contributed $1.1 million against California’s Prop 37, a ballot measure that would have required GMOs to be labeled across the state (and gave just under $600,000 via the Grocery Manufacturers Association to fight Washington State’s similar ballot measure) did not acknowledge feeling any pressure brought by the campaign directly, but rather stated they expected that “consumers will embrace it."
Cheerios Goes GMO-Free: The Details
- Only “classic” Cheerios are making the change, not the brand’s other flavors, of which there are a surprisingly high number.
- As the company points out, the primary ingredient in Cheerios are oats, and “there are no GMO oats;” the new formula will include non-GM cornstarch only, and non-GM pure cane sugar, rather than GM sugar beets.
- New Cheerios have been in production for a few weeks, but it’s unclear when they’ll appear on store shelves.
In spite of the change, General Mills is standing by its longtime assertion that GMOs are safe, and continues to stand against state-level labeling initiatives, voicing support instead for a “national solution” on the labeling issue. To date, in spite of dozens of GMO labeling initiatives around the country, only one has been passed, in Connecticut, and that one won’t be enacted until other states—including at least one neighboring state—follow suit.
Christian Science Monitor quoted food historian Ken Albala’s prediction that “an avalanche” of other companies will follow General Mills’ strategy, but don’t expect a domino effect a la Starbucks Coffee Company’s 2006 move to rid their supply chain of dairy produced with rBGH. Hardcore food policy followers will recall that Monsanto had sued independent producers in several states for labeling products as rBGH-free, but in the end, consumer campaigns convinced companies to stop selling dairy produced with the artificial hormone.
“The way to sell any food product is to have several different versions. That’s probably where we’re going to be in a few years,” Mr. Albala says. “This is a specialty market.”
Visit EcoWatch’s GMO page for more related news on this topic.
By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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