General Mills recently released its 2014 Global Responsibility report in which it affirmed biotechnology as key to addressing feeding a growing population. In January, General Mills announced it would stop sourcing genetically modified corn starch and sugar cane for its original Cheerios, making them non-GMO. The latest report, however, reinforces the companies support in GM crops and their necessity in global agriculture production.
According to the report, one in eight people in the world today – or 870 million people worldwide – do not have enough to eat. By 2040, the world’s population is projected to increase to nearly 9 billion people. “Global experts project that to meet the growing needs of an increasingly hungry world, we will need at least 50% more food, 45% more energy, and 30% more water,” noted the report.
“It’s a daunting challenge. But biotechnology shows promise to address such issues as strengthening crops against drought and extreme temperature, and delivering more nutritious food, even in poor soil conditions,” the report explained. “We agree with the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) that the development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) offers the potential for increased agricultural productivity or improved nutritional value that can contribute directly to enhancing human health and development.”
“We know consumers care about the foods they eat - and we care about the foods we provide.”
General Mills expressed it understands consumers are concerned about the safety of GM ingredients, but reassured its customers that the customers no.1 priority is safety and that they “find broad and deep global consensus among food and safety regulatory bodies that approved GM ingredients are safe.”
“This technology is not new,” added the report. “Biotech seeds have been approved by global food safety agencies and widely used by farmers in food crops for almost 20 years. Because U.S. farmers use GM seed to grow certain crops, 70% of foods on U.S. grocery store shelves likely contain GMO ingredients.”
The report pointed out that global food safety experts will note there has not been a single incident of harm to health or safety demonstrably linked to the use of GMOs anywhere in the world and that numerous studies have found certain benefits, however.
“Ensuring safe and effective food production, while conserving precious natural resources, is a long-standing commitment for General Mills. We believe biotechnology can help.”
The report explained that GM crops generally need less insecticide, and may allow for the use of less herbicide. Additionally, it explained that GM crops often require less energy use by farmers. “They are associated with reduced greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), improved water quality, improved nitrogen retention, and improved water filtration and erosion reduction in soil.”
For those still concerned about the safety of GMOs, General Mills said it does offer non-GMO alternatives in most of our major categories in the U.S.