In April, The Green Grocer in Rhode Island pulled Kashi cereal from its aisles after complaints that the cereal was not organic and had no place in the store.
While Kashi doesn’t market its cereal as organic, the “natural” labels on the cereal box sparked controversy when consumers found that Kashi products use genetically modified soy.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), such as the genetically modified soy used in Kashi products, are designed to withstand pesticides and herbicides, such as Monsanto’s Roundup. Chemical toxins in commonly used herbicides, like Roundup, have been tied to endocrine disruption, miscarriages, malformations, and more.
Not only are these toxic herbicides sprayed on GMOs, but they seep into the groundwater and contaminate our water supply. And these are only the impacts from the herbicides sprayed on GMOs, not the GMOs themselves.
Publicly funded research was conducted over a three-year period of time (1999 – 2000) by The Royal Commission on Genetically Modification in New Zealand to better understand the impacts of Genetically Modified Organisms.
The research found:
Vertical Gene Transfer
GMOs may be able to spread genetic material through pollen, so that the very weeds that are treated with GMO-resistant herbicide may inherit the gene to resist the herbicide, resulting in super weeds that are unmanageable.
Horizontal Gene Transfer
There is the possibility that GMOs can transfer genetic material without sexual reproduction. Scientists have found that GMOs can transfer genetic material to bacteria. The question is, how far can the horizontal gene transfer go?
GMOs May Impact Bees
GMOs can express insecticides, which may be found in the pollen, impacting bees and other insects that we rely on to pollinate plants. In addition, the organisms that prey on the infected bees or other insects may also be affected by the genetic insecticide.
GMOs Impact Soil
GMOs release insecticides into the soil. While findings have only shown a mild impact on soil, research in this area continues.
GMOs are a controversial topic in the US because agribusinesses were given the okay to grow and sell GMOs before sufficient clinical research was conducted to determine the safety of the product. In addition, there are no regulations in place that require businesses to label products that contain GMOs.
This is why Kashi’s website can boast passion for “good, all-natural foods” and state their products have “nothing artificial.”
Customer complaints led The Green Grocer to review reports from the Cornucopia Institute, a nonprofit that provides consumers with information about agricultural and organic products. The Cornucopia Institute explains that there are few restrictions for “natural” foods, a term that is used often and, essentially, carries no weight.
Technically, Kashi’s products are in line with FDA rules, since genetically modified foods can be labeled as “natural,” but this technicality still enrages consumers and is considered “misleading.”
Social media has allowed the news to spread like wildfire, encouraging consumers to speak out, petition, and refrain from buying Kashi products.
Hundreds of comments hit Kashi’s Facebook, including statements such as, “I literally eat tons of Kashi because I trusted you. I am greatly disappointed” and “I will NEVER buy your products again!!!”
A year ago, Kashi recalled 11,000 frozen pizzas because plastic fragments were found in the crust, according to the FDA. Kashi’s general manager, David DeSouza apologized for the recall and said Kashi would work to fix the situation, stating that “People who buy Kashi trust the quality and safety of our foods.”
So much for trust.
DeSouza stated that by 2015, new Kashi products will contain 70% organic certified ingredients. Perhaps too little, too late.
The Just Label It Petition has just been submitted, telling the FDA to enforce food labeling that states whether food has GMOs or not. Though the petition has been submitted, comments continue to be taken into consideration by the FDA.
You can also sign a petition to ban the use of glyphosate-based herbicides, such as Roundup.
In the meantime, the best way to avoid genetically modified foods is to purchase organic, because organic products must adhere to more rigid regulations.