BALTIMORE -- During the seminar "GMOs: Retailers Speak Out," at Natural Products Expo East here last month, members of the environmental organization Greenpeace displayed the pamphlet shown at right, which scolds Kellogg's for putting genetically modified organisms in its cereals.
At Kellogg's headquarters in Battle Creek, Mich., spokeswoman Christine Ervine told SN, "This campaign has been going on for a number of months. The majority of food companies in the U.S. use co-mingled grain, so, most food products that use this grain do contain bioengineered ingredients.
This is precisely the issue General Mills avoided by issuing its Sunrise cereal last year. Sunrise is made from some, but not all, organic ingredients. The organics industry has been promoting organic as certifiably free of genetically modified ingredients, but at the same time, it calls for labeling of GMO-free products in order to provide the consumer with more choice.
In speaking with SN, Gene Grabowski, a spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers of America, Washington, D.C., said "At best, this trivializes an issue that needs to be discussed, and at worst it misleads and frightens consumers irresponsibly.
"The folks who oppose biotech are clever, using any means they can to get public attention. The good news is, it's not having much effect. Food companies are not in the biotech business; we are in the business of providing consumers with what they want. So far, consumers have not told us that they are concerned or would reject biotech. If they did, we would find a way not to use it, but that's not what is happening.
"Instead, the benefits, accrue to farmers, in more abundant yields; the environment, in reduced use of pesticides, less runoff, and better use of resources, and, to consumers themselves," Grabowski said.
Ervin, asked whether Kellogg's would have an organically certified cereal in the future, said "We never talk about future product plans. It's a case, again, of consumer preference. In Europe, our corn comes from, and has always come from, a source that is non bio-produced and we look for non-biotech sources over there.
"We have seen no overriding demand in this country for anything other than what we've given them. Our consumers seem to be just fine with what we provide."