“Natural” cereal full of GMOs

“Truth in advertising” is a Federal Trade Commission requirement that advertisements not make misleading, false, or deceptive claims. False advertising is illegal in most countries, but for many years, advertisers have still been able to place consumers under an attractive façade in order to sell them products and ideas in ways that are less than legal. It now appears that even breakfast cereal companies have followed suit.

For a long time, breakfast cereal companies have been marketing toward a crowd looking for healthier breakfast alternatives to the sugary cereals many of us have been eating every morning of our lives. However, a new investigation by the Cornucopia Institute has shown that many breakfast cereal companies have been using the ambiguity of the term “natural” to lead consumers to believe that their products are free from pesticide use and genetically modified ingredients. The Cornucopia Institute found that in reality, these “natural” cereal brands contain high levels of GMOs and pesticides.

So what about GMOs?

GMO stands for genetically modified organism; the term refers to a living organism which has been genetically altered in order to enhance growth, nutritional value, or resistance to pests. In theory, it sounds like a wonderful practice, but the use of GMOs comes with its fair share of problems.

First of all, an insufficient amount of testing has been done to see whether or not genetically engineered foods are safe to consume. We would need to conduct very specific long-term feeding studies in order to even assure ourselves about the safety of GMOs. Moreover, the use of GMOs could make disease-causing bacteria even more resistant to antibiotics, spreading disease and creating “super bugs”. Don’t even get me started on the immensely negative environmental impact it would have, or how only a handful of food companies will (and already do!) dominate world food production, or the exploitation of people and animals that would worsen. Yeah. GMOs are a nasty business – one that could get better in time, yes, but that would, well, take time and some serious stepping up on behalf of the US government. Yup! Time. I said I wouldn’t get started, so here are a few things to remember about GMOs in relation to the Cornucopia Institute’s test findings.

3 Important Things to Remember about GMOs:

  1. GE contamination exists in almost anything, even “non-GMO” food products. Therefore, the ‘level’ of GMOs in a specific food item is more important to identify. For instance, some of the so called “natural” items tested by the Cornucopia Institute revealed contamination levels ranging from 28-100% GMOs. This rules out the notion that these foods were contaminated from nearby fields, which genetically-modified crops have a tendency to do.
  2. GMO tests are a “snapshot” that can change over time. in other words, foods that are GMO-free one day may contain higher levels due to a number of factors, such as contamination, supply changes, supply line errors, etc.
  3. Products containing GMOs may be “enrolled” in a Non-GMO Project before being “verified”; this means that they are “on the path”, so to speak, to becoming GMO-free, but have not met their goal yet. So, it is important to try to shop for certified organic breakfast cereals!

What do the tests show?

The Cornucopia Institute’s test results reveal the following:

  • Kashi brand cereals (Kellogg’s) contain high levels of GMOs. 100% of the soy used on tested Kashi cereal boxes contained genetically engineered soy.
  • Mother’s brand cereals (PepsiCo) use corn that is at least 28% genetically engineered.
  • Whole Foods’ 365 Corn Flakes contain more than 50% GE corn.
  • Barbara’s Bakery Puffins cereal also contains more than 05% GE corn.
  • Quaker Oats (a unit of PepsiCo), an “all-natural” product, and yet its processing plant emits ~19,000lbs of sulfuryl fluoride yearly. Sulfuryl fluoride is a toxic greenhouse gas which is used to treat crops (such as oats) while in storage.
  • “Natural” Peace Cereal Wild Berry Crisp is produced from conventional agricultural ingredients and contains the neurotoxin phosmet and carcinogen captain.
  • Mom’s Best Naturals Raisin Bran cereal contains non-GMO ingredients, but ones commonly contaminated with the neurotoxins malathion and phosmet
  • Many Bear Naked and Kashi products contain conventional soy protein, which is typically hexane-extracted in the US. This means that the soybeans are placed in a “hexane bath”, consisting of >50% n-hexane (a known neurotoxin) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Nature’s Path is a sincerely organic cereal and was made entirely without GMO ingredients.

What Can I Do Now?

Well, one thing you can try to minimize your consumption of GMO products and maximize your consumption of organics! Make sure to keep an eye for the USDA Organic label.

USDA Organic labels ensure that at least 95% of the product is organic. But keep in mind, that even if a product is certified organic, it may not have the USDA sticker on it. It’s a voluntary process that is quite rigorous, so not everyone (like smaller farming operations) is able to get certified.

Catherine Davis

Works Consulted

Adams, Mike. “‘Natural’ Breakfast Cereals Loaded with Pesticides and GMOs – Explosive New Scorecard from Cornucopia Reveals All.” Natural Health News. 11 Oct. 2011. Web. 07 Nov. 2011. <http://www.naturalnews.com/033838_breakfast_cereals_GMOs.html>.

“Genetic Engineering.” Sustainabletable.org. Web. 07 Nov. 2011. <http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/ge/>.

“Certified Organic Label Guide.” Organic.org. Web. 07 Nov. 2011. <http://www.organic.org/articles/showarticle/article-201>.


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