Margaret Smith is a professor of plant breeding and genetics who leads a Cornell University program to help farmers and the public understand plant breeding and genetic engineering. She says the recent move by General Mills to eliminate genetically modified organisms from its Cheerios cereal might please GMO-shy consumers, but it won’t alter the iconic cereal’s make up one bit.
“Corn starch and sugar are highly refined products, so they contain no DNA (which is what is introduced into a genetically engineered organism) and no protein (which is what the new DNA would produce in a genetically engineered organism). Because of that, corn starch and sugar from a genetically engineered corn variety are nutritionally and chemically identical to corn starch or sugar from a non-genetically engineered variety.
“This means that the new version of Cheerios that is being made without use of genetically engineered varieties will be nutritionally and chemically identical to the previous version. So it will not offer anything new to consumers – other than to give them the option to buy a product that does not support planting more acres to genetically engineered crop varieties.”
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