Cameron S. Bigger, Staff Writer
General Mills is one of the largest processed food manufacturers in the world, owning more than 100 food brands in more than 100 countries. It owns such beloved brands as Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Yoplait Yogurt, Betty Crocker, Chex Mix, Progresso Soups, Häagen Dazs ice cream, Gold Medal Flour, and Pillsbury Dough.
Since 2008, Kendall Powell has been the Chairman of General Mills. Since 2007, also serving on the Board of Directors of Medtronic—the producers of the #1 selling insulin pump. In fact, he now serves as the Chairman of Medtronic’s Compensation Committee.
First off, the fact that the Chairman of one of the most globally popular processed food companies also serves as Chairman of the Compensation Committee of one of the most lucrative heart disease and diabetes medical technology companies is a lethal conflict of interest about which every consumer deserves to be aware.
This partnership is especially troubling considering how openly Medtronic boasts about its massive revenues, which are mostly accrued from sales related to lifestyle-related diseases that can oftentimes be prevented through a healthy diet. According to Medtronic’s website, in the fiscal year of 2016, the company brought in $10.2B in cardiac/vascular revenue, $1.8B in diabetes-related revenue, and an additional $16.8B in revenue from other pharmaceutical categories.
In 2016, Mr. Powell made $8.8 million from General Mills alone. While Mr. Powell’s exact yearly payouts from Medtronic are unavailable to the public, research did reveal that, after bonuses, the typical salary paid to Medtronic directors is $226,000 per year.
Now, why would Medtronic—a leading manufacturer of heart disease and diabetes products— pay Mr. Powell, the Chairman of a global processed food company, $226k a year? Are we naïve enough to believe that Medtronic pays Mr. Powell with no expected return on its investment?
Could it be that Medtronic pays Mr. Powell to facilitate collaboration between Medtronic’s and General Mills’ scientists, with the intention to discover new ways of combining obesity-promoting food products and chemicals, with the end goal of developing more insulin resistant consumers who would be prescribed Medtronic’s diabetes and heart disease products. Medtronic may rest reassured that these obesity bombs will be bought and consumed by the masses, due to the sheer volume of food sales annually generated by General Mills ($17.6B in 2016).
You see, some of those huge words that we can’t even pronounce near the bottom of the ingredients lists—sold to us as “necessary preservatives”— can cause major disruptions to our gut biome, and if eaten repeatedly, can lead to digestive diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colitis.
For example, Progresso’s Chicken Corn Chowder not only contains obesity-causing refined sugar, but also titanium dioxide, which has been linked to the exacerbation of intestinal barrier function diseases such as IBS and colitis. Researchers recommend that patients with colitis avoid food products containing titanium dioxide.
A brief examination of the ingredients in one of General Mills’ healthiest brands, Fiber One, quickly reveals that the cereal is composed of a processed chemical concoction that contains an emulsifier, carboxymethylcellulose, that has been linked to metabolic dysfunction, obesity, and inflammatory bowel disease.
I was about to begin research on an ingredient label for a General Mills’ pizza brand, Totino’s, but as soon as I flipped over a box of their Pepperoni Pizza Rolls, I felt completely overwhelmed, and gave up: just as they hoped I would do. Nevertheless, I counted the “ingredients”: there are 84. I’m no chef, but I do know that we shouldn’t need 84 “ingredients” to make a children’s snack.
Consuming chemicals that disrupt and deteriorate gut health along with refined sugars exacerbates the process towards insulin-resistance, which can lead to diabetes. In fact, diabetes is one of the most frequent comorbidities of ulcerative colitis, and this interrelation suggests genetic sharing. Diabetic patients are also twice as likely to develop heart problems. It all runs full circle, starting with the food we put in our mouths.
It’s not surprising the (public domain) research into these food chemicals is “preliminary” and mostly incomplete. That’s because the FDA is paid huge sums of money to allow the usage of so many chemicals in the US food supply chain, many of which are banned in other countries. Food production companies want as many allowable chemicals in their products as possible, so that there’s no way for consumers to pinpoint either the cause of their reactions or the deteriorating health they may be experiencing.
Of course, General Mills will back itself up and justify that each “ingredient” is needed, and it will claim that there are no proven side-effects, all while the executives and their Big Pharma buddies know full well what the long-term effects of these chemicals will be.
The goal of this article is not to specifically blame Medtronic’s scientists for the development of the additives I spoke of above, nor to singlehandedly blame Mr. Powell nor General Mills for the obesity epidemic we’re all paying for today. I do feel, however, that it’s very important to remember that all businesses are out to make a profit. The way that General Mills profits is by selling us food, and the way Medtronic profits is by prescribing us treatments. This means that Mr. Powell oversees both increasing sales of processed foods and increasing prescriptions for the treatments of the overconsumption of those same foods, at the same time.
All connections between Big Pharma and Big Food are alarming, but this relationship is especially troubling because General Mills also owns Box Tops For Education and Girl Scout Cookie Cereals, which both aim to imprint on the minds of the youth that these are the foods that lead to rewards. This also subconsciously implies that not only are they safe to be eaten, but also that eating these foods is encouraged. Girl Scout Cookies Cereals are just as unhealthy as their cookie counterparts, while Box Tops For Education is a program that pays schools for as many General Mills box tops as they’re able to collect from their students. Of the 81 foods that Box Tops For Education accepts, at least 77 are unhealthy choices loaded with processed sugars and chemicals foreign to the human body.
It’s clear as day what General Mills is promoting to our youth, and it does not align with a healthy future for thriving Americans. Today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6–19) is obese. How about incentivizing healthy food choices, rather than the opposite?
Just as when Big Tobacco lobbied for 50 years to slow and hush research showing that smoking causes cancer, the same thing is being done to our food supply today—and by mostly the same people— but with all new names, chemicals, designer diseases, and expensive medical treatments that leave us confused, vulnerable, and dependent upon their prescriptions for decades to come.
About the Author
Cameron is an internationally-published vegan fitness model & writer who’s passionate about bringing to light the vast medicinal benefits of a whole-foods, plant-based diet, along with consistent exercise.
This article (General Mills Teams Up with Big Pharma to Keep Americans Obese and Unhealthy) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Cameron S. Bigger and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution and author bio.