Should we take a closer look? The fact is, General Mills does not think there is anything wrong with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients and is simply putting a product on the market that they believe will sell. "We did it because we think consumers may embrace it." http://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-dd-cheerios-general-mills-no-gmo-20140103,0,470209.story#ixzz2pcFdPY8t
If you look further into the big Cheerios announcement, you will realize that they aren't committing to changing the other Cheerios products, because, frankly, they don't have to. If they can change one product and steal market share from another cereal maker, their mission is accomplished. Their other option is to tack a little "fee" onto the new, improved Cheerios in order to compensate them for the higher cost of resourcing the non-GMO ingredients, replacing the older "bad" GMO stuff they were putting in there. Either way, make no mistake folks, for General Mills, this is about profit and not about health. They are a business, making a strategic move to capture market share, nothing more. If the company gets an image bump from the 'buzz' created by their big announcement, even better.
If you noticed, this week, I posted a question on my FB page (fb.com/thepocketfarmer), asking everyone, if they are prepared to pay more for non-GMO foods. The responses were overwhelmingly "Yes, but why should we have to?", "Your data is flawed" and even "Whose side are you on?". These comments tell me that we are unprepared for the second shoe to drop in our battle against the GMO machine.
First, let me say that I am unequivocally against GMO contamination of our food supply. Let's get that on the record, in case there was any doubt. But, as the messenger of apparent bad and unwelcome news, I was incorrectly labeled a traitor to the cause. I understand why, but to focus on that is to lose sight of the real issue: GMO companies are not just going to pack up their marbles and go home. Oh, no. They already have Plan B, Plan C and so on, in the pipeline, once the GMO battle gains legislative advantage.
Second, what is the "news" that I speak of? As I mentioned earlier, this is about money. Money got us into this mess and it will take money to get us out. A LOT OF MONEY. It will come from my pocket and yours, either to encourage companies to voluntarily comply with GMO labeling (by paying more for the product) or to force them to label through legal remedies (which cost money for attorneys).
It will also cost money to find new sources of GMO free food. Corn is a major ingredient in our food supply and nearly all corn grown in the US today is GMO (88%). But it's not just corn we have to worry about. 93% of soybeans are contaminated, 94% of cotton (cottonseed is used as a frying oil), Papaya 75%, Canola 90% and Sugar beet also 90%. That is quite a bit of product to find a replacement for.
In order to grow non-GMO corn you have to pay a premium for seed, since most corn crops have been or will be, contaminated by GMO drift, and then you have to protect your corn crop from the same contamination. Not an easy task, I assure you. And not cheap either.
I noticed some comments on the FB page that suggested that farmers need to take up the fight by planting and growing non-GMO food. I agree. In fact, we do that here on our farm. We pay more for organic heirloom seed, and all natural feed for our livestock, in order to raise the healthiest food possible (in our situation) for our family and customers. We pass part of that additional cost along to our egg, chicken and pork buyers. We have to. Otherwise we couldn't afford to do it. Large scale farmers have the same dilemma. They'd like to provide the food that their ancestors were able to grow, but with Monsanto breathing down their back, the high cost of GMO free seed and protecting their crops from GMO contamination, they simply cannot shoulder the additional cost. In order to get GMO out of our food, we'll need to either grow it ourselves, or pay someone else a higher price to make it happen.
It comes down to money. Even if we get GMO product labeling, what are we going to do? Boycott the 70% of our food products that have GMO contamination? Maybe. Demand non-GMO products? Well, we've been doing that, and so far progress is very slow. At this rate, we might have GMO free products in time for our grandkids to enjoy. Which is ok too, but if we want real change, in our lifetime, we'll have to pay for it. It's that simple.
When you see the new Cheerios come out, by all means, buy some! GMO free is good! Send the message back to General Mills, that we like what they are doing. Maybe they'll make more changes. Maybe other companies will follow suit when they see how successful these products are. We can hope. In the meantime, follow the money, and you'll see where change really comes from.
Feel free to share this message and help get the word out. Knowledge is power! You can also join me on FB at fb.com/thepocketfarmer or you can find me on Twitter @thepocketfarmer. Thank you! :)