#OccupyCheerios: A Facebook Revolt

The General Mills’ cereal brand didn’t just get “likes” when it posted a vintage commercial on Facebook—it got biting criticism for its use of GMOs too.

Anti-GMO protesters have taken over the Cheerios' Facebook page (Photo: Facebook)
Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

It wasn't an obvious forum for an anti-GMO protest.

A YouTube video posted on Cheerio’s Facebook page depicts an elderly woman leaning over the highchair of her infant grandchild, cooing about family and the holidays, drawing a map with pieces of cereal representing relative’s far-flung houses. “But don’t you worry,” the grandmother says, pushing two Cheerios together, “we’ll always be together for Christmas.”

More than 1,200 users have commented on the vintage Cheerios commercial since it was posted last week, expressing outrage over the General Mills-owned brand’s use of genetically modified ingredients. Commenters have also been critical—like heavy-exclamation-points-use critical—of General Mills’ significant financial contributions to groups fighting against Prop. 37, California’s defeated GMO-labeling ballot initiative

Comments like “Can you please inform the public exactly why it is that General Mills spent $1.2 million to keep consumers in the dark about GMOs????” and “Nostalgic old commercials are no substitute for healthy ingredients. I won't buy Cheerios until they are GMO-free” are a far cry from the stories of spending holidays with family—and perhaps a bit of Cheerios nostalgia—the post was surely intended to elicit.

The protest campaign was stoked by GMO Inside, an organization born of the failed Yes on 37 campaign. The group also called on people to comment-bomb a Cheerios app, which has since been removed from the company’s Facebook page. But beyond that, Cheerios’ response to the criticism has been . . . nothing. Anti-GMO comments are still piling up on the post, and no new material has been added to page in order to bury the video in the timeline.

Do 1,256 comments (and counting) cancel out $1.2 million of anti-Prop. 37 funding? Of course not. But just as the Occupy-style tactics being employed by protesters at Cooper Union and the Michigan State Capitol exhibit, showing up and voicing an opinion can be a powerful gesture, even if it’s not overpowering. 

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