GMOs in the cereal aisle?

Major accusations by the organic industry watchdog group The Cornucopia Institute suggest that a number of well established health food brands are selling cereals containing genetically modified ingredients labeled as “natural.”

In a report titled Cereal Crimes: How “Natural” Claims Deceive Consumers and Undermine the Organic Label—A Look Down the Cereal and Granola Aisle The Cornucopia Institute names Kashi, Barbara’s Bakery, Peace Cereal and Whole Foods Market private label as some of the long-time natural brands suspected of intentionally misleading consumers into purchasing not only genetically modified ingredients, including Monsanto corn and soy, but products containing harmful toxic pesticides commonly found on non-organic grains.

Cereal samples collected by The Cornucopia Institute were allegedly tested by an “independent, accredited laboratory”, according to a statement from the organization, and found to contain “high levels of genetically engineered ingredients.” The group says some of the cereal samples contained anywhere from 25 to 100 percent genetically modified ingredients despite making non-GMO claims either on product packaging or company websites.

The Facebook pages for Barbara’s Bakery, Kashi and Peace Cereal all show their support of non-GMO foods, and both Kashi and Peace Cereal say they are participating in the Non-GMO Project–currently the only third party non-GMO certifying agency. Barbara’s Bakery’s “Say No Manifesto”, while listing hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors, preservatives and refined sugars as ingredients the company says “no” to, does not include genetically modified ingredients on the list. Whole Foods Market, which not only sells its own brand of cereals but all brands named in the report, has a long-standing anti-GMO position. Barbara’s Bakery cereal boxes include the tagline “All Natural Since 1971″; Peace Cereal and Kashi boxes claim the products are “All Natural”.

ConAgra, maker of Wesson Oil, is in the midst of several class action lawsuits filed by consumers over similar claims that the product, which is labeled as ‘natural’, is actually unnatural by definition since its ingredients have undergone genetic modification.

The World Health Organization defines genetically modified as “organisms in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.” Currently, there is no regulatory agency overseeing use of the word “natural” nor are there currently any regulations requiring the labeling of genetically modified foods in the U.S.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: sleepyneko