A major U.S. cereal manufacturer, General Mills, says it has ended the use of genetically modified ingredients in Cheerios, its flagship breakfast food.
The company said late Thursday that it has found new sources for cornstarch and sugar in the production of the 73-year-old cereal, so it can eliminate the use of genetically modified organisms. Oats are the main ingredient in Cheerios, but that crop is not grown from genetically modified seeds.
General Mills acted in the face of complaints from activist groups and some consumers about the use of genetically modified content. They say the long-term consumption of products containing such organisms could be harmful. The company said there is "broad consensus" that such ingredients are safe, but some countries have, for years, restricted their use.
One of the groups advocating against the use of the modified material, GMO Inside, said that Cheerios is the first major brand of packaged food in the U.S. to make the switch from using altered ingredients to marketing itself as non-GMO.
General Mills said the change will not affect its production of other varieties of Cheerios, such as Honey Nut Cheerios, because their content includes corn, which is mostly grown in the U.S. from genetically modified seeds.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.