By The Environmental Group

The news that General Mills is making its Cheerios breakfast cereal without genetically modified ingredients and will place this information on food labels has not come as a huge shock to Alex Formulism, of U.S. NGO the Environmental Working Group.

Mr. Formuzis figured that any day now we should see the price of a box of Cheerios soar after General Mills announced it would begin adding the label ‘Not made with genetically modified ingredients’ to boxes of its Original Cheerios brand.

“How did I know this will happen? Because the food and chemical industries have warned of precisely this scenario if foods were required to carry labels about genetically engineered ingredients,” he said.

“And if you can’t trust food and chemical companies, whom can you trust? Some of the companies warning of increased food prices have quite lively histories of being less than honest and open with the public.”

The food-chemical cabal has repeatedly said that if GE foods were required to be labeled, the considerable costs would be passed on to the consumer.

Campaigns in both California and Washington state, scaring voters with near-constant television and radio ads warning that if those GE right-to-know initiatives became law, the only thing consumers would know would be much higher food prices.

In Washington State, the companies said requiring labels of foods made with GE ingredients would “…force farmers and food producers to implement costly new labeling, packaging, distribution and record keeping operations…”

The truth, of course, is that food labels change all the time. Sometimes companies do it in an effort to better market their products, Mr. Formuzis said.

“Sometimes it’s to provide new health-based information required by law or regulation, such as the warning labels on foods made in facilities that use peanuts or other known allergens. Food prices didn’t rise as a result of that federal directive. Food prices also didn’t rise when nutrition labels were required to inform consumers about saturated or trans fats,” he said.

“The decision by General Mills reflects the growing pressure on food companies to provide more, not less, information about what’s in their products. Adding a few words to the box won’t cost consumers a penny more. In fact, the only outcome I can see for the company is an uptick in sales.”