MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- General Mills announced it has started producing original Cheerios free of genetically modified organisms after a year of research and investment.
The change affects only the original flavor of Cheerios, not specialty varieties like Honey Nut or Apple Cinnamon, which General Mills said would be "difficult, if not impossible" to alter due to the cost and accessibility of ingredients.
The makers of Cheerios said the simple recipe for original Cheerios -- oats, cornstarch and sugar -- made it easy to transition to a GMO-free formula because there are no GMO oats.
The company began manufacturing the GMO-free Cheerios several weeks ago and the product should be available to customers in the coming weeks as it makes its way through the distribution system, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The new GMO-free Cheerios are expected to carry the label "Not Made With Genetically Modified Ingredients."
Anti-GMO advocates hailed the move as a victory.
"Removing GMOs from original Cheerios is an important victory in getting GMOs out of our food supply and an important first step for General Mills. Original Cheerios in its famous yellow box will now be non-GMO and this victory sends a message to all food companies that consumers are increasingly looking for non-GMO products and companies need to meet that demand," said Todd Larsen, corporate responsibility director of Green America, a nonprofit that promotes ethical consumerism.