General Mills looks to advance pollinator conservation

by Eric Schroeder
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Honey Nut Cheerios, General Mills
General Mills said oat farms that supply oats for Honey Nut Cheerios will handle approximately 3,300 total acres of dedicated flower-rich pollinator habitat by the end of 2020.

MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills, Inc. has taken steps to become one of the largest corporate contributors to pollinator conservation with the announcement that by the end of 2020, oat farms that supply oats for Honey Nut Cheerios will handle approximately 3,300 total acres of dedicated flower-rich pollinator habitat.

Marla Spivak, bee expert
Marla Spivak, bee scholar at the University of Minnesota

“Pollinator habitats are one of the most effective solutions in ensuring bees get the daily nutrition they need,” said Marla Spivak, a bee scholar at the University of Minnesota who has been collaborating with General Mills on the initiative. “Every day, 4,000 species of North American bees are traveling from flower to flower, shopping for the variety of good nutrition they need in order to thrive.”

The brand’s commitment means that acreage totaling the equivalent of about 3,000 football fields will be planted in partnership with the Xerces Society, a leading pollinator and wildlife conservation organization. The fields will be full of wildflowers that General Mills said harness a variety of essential food sources and nutrients for bees and other pollinators. Previous pollinator habitat plantings on General Mills’ supplier farms have indicated that each pollinator habitat potentially may double the amount of bees living there, the company said.

Eric Lee-Mader, Xerces Society
Eric Lee-Mäder, pollinator program co-director for the Xerces Society

“A huge amount of research now demonstrates the value of habitat restoration on farms for pollinators,” said Eric Lee-Mäder, pollinator program co-director for the Xerces Society. “Features such as flowering hedgerows, mass wildflower plantings in field borders and flowering cover crops, along with improved protection from pesticides, are consistently proving to be the most successful approaches to maintaining robust pollinator populations. We are excited to see how deeply General Mills understands these conservation systems and to watch this beautiful new chapter of conservation farming unfold.”

With the Honey Nut Cheerios commitment, General Mills is now one of the largest corporate contributors to pollinator conservation. Large-scale habitat projects currently are under way on farms supplying ingredients to Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm, Lärabar and Annie’s, with additional projects being planned.

Jared Pippin, General Mills
Jared Pippin, associate marketing manager for Cheerios

“Bees need a variety of good nutrition in their diets, just like humans, and General Mills is about good nutrition,” said Jared Pippin, associate marketing manager for Cheerios. “We are in the business of making food, and all of the experts agree we can’t grow the crops needed for the food we eat if we don’t give the bees that pollinate them the nutrition they need. As a General Mills brand, we saw an opportunity to do more and are proud to be a part of this leading-edge movement to create pollinator habitats.”

General Mills said approximately 30% of all ingredients in its products rely on pollination. Although that does not include the oats used in Honey Nut Cheerios, the brand is committed to planting these habitats in support of pollinator conservation, the company said. Over the past three years, Honey Nut Cheerios and General Mills have contributed more than a quarter million dollars to help research and restore pollinator-friendly habitats for bees and other pollinators. 
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READER COMMENTS (1)

By Richard Cornell 4/26/2016 11:52:55 AM
As the frost line moves North as gobal warming happens how will the people who raise bees deal with the African Queen bee off spring? I might have read the this species of bee does not visit every flowering plant which means that certain spieces of flowering plants dies off. Just wondering if what I have read is true or just urban myth.