General Mills’ supply chain includes huge amounts of oats, wheat, sugar, and soybeans—many grown using pesticides and herbicides such as glyphosate. Rather than telling farmers to use less of the chemicals, the company is hoping to entice them to use regenerative agriculture practices, integrated pest management, and more organic acres.
For example, glyphosate, Roundup’s key ingredient, is often used as a pre-harvest treatment for oats. The Environmental Working Group has reported finding glyphosate residues in oatmeal, breakfast cereals, and snacks (including infant and toddler foods), arousing consumer fears.
“We can see the trends,” said General Mills vice president John Wiebold. “Consumers want less pesticide in their food.”
As the ability to detect pesticides at increasingly lower levels rises, consumers are
asking more questions: What’s in my food? Is it safe for my kids to eat? Are pesticides bad for the environment and are they killing bees? Though amounts of glyphosate residue in oat products is within current safety limits, consumers don’t seem to care—they want a zero level.
General Mills is encouraging use of cover crops, livestock integration, diverse crop rotations, and soil health measures. It is experimenting with contracts with oat farmers who will not apply glyphosate—knowing that if consumers or legislation moves in a certain direction, the company has to follow.
General Mills is promoting regenerative agriculture as a way to achieve cleaner, more reliable ingredients, resilient soils, and farmer profits (due to fewer inputs).
Source: The Western Producer
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