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Cheerios Creates a Buzz with Their 'Bring Back the Bees Campaign'

Cheerios’ good intentions paved a road straight into the crosshairs of ecologists and environmentalists. As reported by USA Today, they attempted to bolster dwindling bee populations by distributing 1.5 billion wildflower seeds.

This easily exceeded their goal of 100 million donated seeds, but their execution has left much to be desired. Many of these seeds are non-native and banned throughout much of the U.S. Included in the packets were California poppy seeds, which are considered an "invasive exotic pest plant" in the South Atlantic region and forget-me-nots, an invasive weed. 

General Mills, the manufacturer of Cheerios, defended the campaign and argued that these “banned” seeds are widely available through retail outlets. They also said that they worked with experts to select seeds that would both flourish and support native bees. 

There is no doubt that the bee population needs all the help it can get and the concept behind the “Bring Back the Bees” campaign must have seemed sound on paper. The free seed packets each contain 20 seeds and the hope was that these plants would provide nectar for honey bees. These insects are crucial for their role in pollinating of fruits and vegetables. By some estimates, one-third of food is pollination dependent.  

If General Mills is truly interested in protecting the bee population, perhaps they should examine the industrial agriculture methods used to manufacturer their cereal products. Toxic neonicotinoid pesticides are permitted on farms growing conventional and genetically engineered crops. Not only do these end up on your plate, but these pesticides play a role in the colony collapse disorder that has decimated bee populations. 

Nicotine-related chemicals called nicotinoids were initially introduced in the 1990s, as widespread pest resistance rendered many older pesticides useless. Many seeds are now "pre-treated" with neonicotinoids, which are water-soluble and break down slowly in the environment.

Today, they are the most widely-used pesticides in the world. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a pesticide that does not contain at least one neonicotinoid insecticide. In California alone, there are nearly 300 registered neonicotinoid products available. Research shows the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in seed treatments is responsible for the death of birds, terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates and other wildlife.

Another issue is glyphosate. Despite General Mills’ GMO-free status, testing completed at Anresco, a laboratory registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), found glyphosate residues in Cheerios as well as other popular foods. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, has made headlines recently because it's the most used agricultural chemical in history and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined it is a probable carcinogen.

There are breakfast options that are not processed and mass-produced. In fact, your health can greatly benefit if you remove all processed food from your diet and consume only nourishing and sustainably raised whole foods. Preparing your own food may sound time consuming, but the health benefits are immense. The convenience and price of processed food is entirely illusory. My nutrition plan is an excellent resource for additional dietary information.
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