Why Did Vitamins Disappear From Non-GMO Breakfast Cereal?


When Cheerios went GMO-free in the beginning of this year, they also went vitamin-free, likely because they could not source cheap, non-GMO vitamin replacements.

That’s the question NPR’s Dan Charles asked recently:

Why Did Vitamins Disappear From Non-GMO Breakfast Cereal?, NPR, 5 December 2014

You can probably guess what they discovered:

Post Foods, the maker of Grape-Nuts, informed us in a prepared statement that vitamins were removed because “they did not meet non-GMO standards.”

Cereal and vitamin manufacturers weren’t forthcoming with exactly why vitamins didn’t meet non-GMO standards. But Charles and his crew discovered that:

  • Some companies are most likely making vitamin B-12 and riboflavin using genetically modified microbes.
  • Vitamin-makers have to show that their microbes consumed feed — glucose, for instance — that came from non-GMO sources.
  • Some vitamins have to be mixed with other substances, such as cornstarch. [Most corn in this country is GMO.]

It seems pretty safe to conclude that most vitamins and dietary supplements sold in the US have been produced using genetic engineering, unless their labels indicate otherwise. Even then, a product may contain about 1% GMO and still meet the non-GMO definition.

Thanks to Shaun for the link!

9 thoughts on “Why Did Vitamins Disappear From Non-GMO Breakfast Cereal?

  1. Darryl

    I’d assumed this was common knowledge. Pretty much all vitamin B12, vitamin B2, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and biotin is produced using microorganisms that have been genetically modified (though not always with transgenic genes) to overexpress enzymes in the vitamin synthetic pathways, for close to 3 decades now. No B12 supplementing vegan is GMO free, nor is any riboflavin fortified flour.

    The capital and skill requirements to produce vitamins on industrial scales are steep enough that the industry consists of a handful of companies: Hoffman-La Roche, BASF, Aventis, Daiichi, Eisai, Takeda, Solvay, and Merck. The market for non-GMO supplements is so niche that there no incentive for non-GMO lines or for non-GMO producers to enter the market. On the bright side, the products from these corporations are generally remarkably pure, which can’t be said for the Chinese entrants to the supplement market.

    1. Bix Post author

      All people over 50 risk B12 deficiency, as I’ve discussed. Not just vegans. Eating meat or other animal food does not cure this deficiency, as studies have shown and by mechanisms I’ve given. Terms like “B12 supplementing vegan” is a conflation used intentionally to smear vegans.

      The link in your comment is to a pro-GMO website run by a German company (Genius) which includes among its clients the biotech firms BASF, Bayer, EuropaBio, Syngenta, and the American Soybean Association. It is, essentially, an advertisement for biotech. Since my website is non-commercial, I’m removing the link.

        1. Bix Post author

          I am sorry for jumping to conclusions.

          Whenever I post about GMOs, people come out of the woodwork to defend them. One time I had an email exchange with a man, Hans Lombard, who wanted me to post on my blog that a GMO study I talked about was “flawed and misleading.” I found it intimidating and discovered he was being payrolled by biotech. Jeffrey Smith described him as “a public relations consultant for the biotech industry.” Lombard said someone in the ag industry picked up my blog and forwarded it to him to respond to.

          Since that episode 6 years ago, I am suspicious of people who leave comments on my GMO posts.

        2. Bix Post author

          I can see now why defending consumption of saturated fat would be important to biotech companies like Monsanto that make money selling GMO corn and soy, that go to feed livestock. I didn’t make that connection before.

  2. Melinda

    That’s extremely interesting about GMO vitamins. Never thought of it. I agree, btw, that it’s way too early to know if GMOs will have a deleterious *long-term* effect.

  3. Melinda

    I don’t know about vitamins, but at least with crops, the point of GMO is often to make the plants resistant to carcinogenic herbicides & pesticides (as w/ Monsanto). So how can it be healthful to consume plants that have been drenched in carcinogens?

  4. Melinda

    Wow, that’s really something Darryl. So how does Europe (which has far more stringent GMO standards than we do) deal with the vitamin issue?


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