GMOs are found in many breakfast cereals labeled “natural”, including popular brands like Barbara’s, Kashi, and Mother’s.
The Cornucopia Institute tested a wide variety of breakfast cereals for genetically engineered ingredients. What they found is surprising. Even long-time respected natural brands contain 25%-100% GMOs.
The Meaning of Natural
What the customers think “natural” means is different from what companies use “natural” to mean. Customers tend to believe that natural excludes anything unnatural – preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, pesticides, and genetically modified organisms.
Many companies, on the other hand, are simply capitalizing on a lack of labeling laws to confuse customers.
Polls cited in the Cornucopia Institute’s report indicate that nearly two-thirds of consumers believe that natural is the same as organic on the label.
There are no laws or regulations governing what can be called “natural”. A company can decide to put it on any food they want.
Typically, the word “natural” is accompanied by a claim that there are no preservatives or artificial colors or flavors in the food. Since preservatives and artificial colors and flavors are legally required to be on the label, the claim is usually true.
However, it’s the other assumptions that customers bring with the word natural that makes the label deceptive.
Using the word “organic” on a label means something. It’s regulated by U.S. law. Organically produced foods must be grown within a set of legal guidelines, using no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers and so on. Consumers know what they’re getting with the word organic.
Natural can mean anything the company wants it to. What the Cornucopia Institute’s testing found is that “natural” doesn’t mean anything at all.
What Can You Do?
Check your cereal. Some companies that were organic have substituted conventional and genetically engineered ingredients without lowering the price. The Cornucopia Institute has an online cereal scorecard to help sort through the various brands.
October is Non-GMO Month. Sign the petition demanding that the FDA require labeling of genetically engineered ingredients. Contact Rep. Dennis Kucinich and ask him to submit a bill to Congress requiring labeling of GMOs.
Image by Hobbit_71, used with Creative Commons license.