From Green Right Now Reports

Food activists who support GMO labeling have been letting General Mills know that they don’t appreciate the corporation’s recent contributions toward defeating the labeling ballot initiative in California.

Over the past week, thousands registered their dismay with the cereal giant on the Cheerios Facebook page , according to the GMO Inside Campaign.

These consumers are “distressed about genetically engineered ingredients in Cheerios and outraged at General Mills [for] contributing over $1.1 million to the ‘No on 37’ in California,” the group reports.

“No on 37” was the corporately funded group that defeated Proposition 37, which would have required labeling of foods that use genetically modified ingredients. The ballot initiative had wide public support through most of 2012, but was defeated after a $40+ million campaign funded by Monsanto and other pesticide makers invested in the GM crop process.

Grocery chains and food corporations also joined the fight to defeat Prop 37, saying that a GMO label would scare consumers about genetically engineered foods.

GMOs have been widely incorporated into packaged foods and cereals as the food supply in the U.S. has become flooded with GMOs (most genetically modified or engineered foods are created by major manufacturers to resist certain pesticides). An estimated 85 percent or more of the corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. Sugar beets and other crops also have been genetically modified.

People and groups opposed to GMO foods say they have not been proven safe, despite the government’s assurance that they are “substantially similar” to conventionally grown foods. GMO foods have been shown to increase the yield of certain row crops, but studies also document that those yields can crash as weeds develop resistance to RoundUp and other pesticides incorporated into the GMO game plan.

Cheerios’ marketing wing unwittingly invited trouble recently when it asked Facebook users to “share what Cheerios means to them.” The invitation set off a wave of venting by anti-GMO groups and individuals. Posters expressed concerns that products using GM ingredients may not be safe, and many suggested that General Mills is participating in a giant food experiment.

Alisa Gravitz, CEO and president of Green America, a founder of GMO Inside, said she was heartened to see robust opposition expressed on the Cheerios’ Facebook page after Inside GMO invited people to post.

“It is also amazing to see the creativity that visitors to Cheerios’ Facebook page use to call out Cheerios on using their customers as a science experiment for GMO consumption,” she said.

“Cheerios is a cereal that is frequently fed to children, and many of the comments are from concerned parents who are worried about the fact that they have been feeding a cereal with genetically engineered ingredients to their children.”

A sampling of the backlash:

  • Jennifer Kongs answered a query on Cheerios page asking for “fond memories” of Cheerios and the holidays, pleading: “Please label GMOs – otherwise my children will never have any “fond Cheerios memories” — they’ll never eat them.”
  • Nathan Burton put it all on the table: “What $1,135,300 donated against Prop 37? Family of 7 here…I will buy no more General Mills cereals until they are guaranteed GMO free! If you do that you will have a loyal customer. Until then…FORGET IT!!!!!”
  • Cyndi More DePree reacted to the picture of a granny feeding a tot Cheerios as a Christmas tree glowed in the background: “Nothing makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside like grandmothers feeding toxic crap to their infant grandchildren.”
  • Alexis DeBerry said: General Mills you have lost another customer. We serve this in our employee cafeteria every day. I am seriously disappointed in the disparity between what you preach and what you practice. Don’t plaster your boxes with health claims while filling your product with genetically modified ingredients. GM crops are not only harmful to us as individuals, their use is wrecking havoc on our ecosystems. And shame on you for trying to keep customers in the dark by contributing over a million dollars to keep labels of GM foods.

That’s probably not the reaction GM was hoping for. What does General Mills think of this kamikaze campaign to keep the GMO issue alive? Their money, spent to oppose labeling in California, speaks for them. But we’ve also sent a query asking for more comment and will post that when and if the company responds.

Earlier General Mills pulled an App that allowed fans to issue their comments in the familiar “Cheerios” font. The company pulled that app after the negative remarks began piling up. (You can see an example in the image above.)

GMO Inside reports that visitors had used the Cheerios Facebook App to spell out comments such as “Caution GMOs,” “Cheerigmos,” and “We are not lab rats.”

Even though General Mills removed the app and the posts generated by it from their Facebook page, some of these messages are preserved at the Cheeseslave website and the Happy Place website.