“What do Cheerios mean to you?” It seems like an innocent enough question, but when Cheerios maker General Mills posted the inquiry late last week and encouraged responses through a Facebook app that even designed comments in the trademark font and color of the cereal brand, users flooded the page with comments that ranged from vitriolic to plaintive. General Mills, you see, supported the “No 0n 37″ anti-labeling campaign in California, contributing a reported $1.1 to the cause to stop required labeling of GMOs in the state.
The makers of Cheerios — which may contain GMOs, though the company doesn’t admit this — were clearly fishing for heart-warming stories about adults who grew up eating the cereal and now give it to their kids, but instead, they were deluged with anti-GMO rants and snarky plays on the brand name. General Mills shut down the app, but a few sites (like Cheeseslave) managed to save screen shots before the campaign was pulled.
The Cheerios Facebook page still features many of the embittered comments, some of which accuse the company of everything short of genocide, with others taking a more reasoned stance, such as this from one “mom”: “I fed all my babies Cheerios thinking I was giving them a ‘healthy’ snack. I did not know about GMO products at the time. I was proud to give them Cheerios. Shame on you for lying to a Mom — millions of Moms — that you believe in safe products. You might as well fill them with sugar — then we’d know not to buy your products.
California’s Prop 37 was narrowly defeated last month in what was seen as a test of how far the “good movement” has come. The proposition, which would have required food that included GMO ingredients to be labeled as such, seemed destined to pass, but a big push from agribusiness and corporations like General Mills and Monsanto helped sway voters against it.