Paul Austin

Paul Austin is the director of Conservation Minnesota, a statewide non-profit. In that role, he gets to hear and share Minnesotan’s stories about our lakes, lands and way of life. Paul’s past lives include election as a small town mayor, serving at the US Agency for International Development, and managing a small marketing firm. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, two small children and one very large dog.

What is General Mills Hiding?

Posted by: Paul Austin Updated: May 13, 2014 - 9:38 AM

Since 2010, the Minnesota Department of Health has tracked a class of priority chemicals that are singled out for their toxicity to humans. The nine chemicals on this list, things like lead, cadmium, BPA and formaldehyde, have been linked to increased risks for autism, learning disabilities, cancer and fertility issues.

But for some reason, General Mills doesn’t want Minnesotans to know which children’s products sold in this state contain these toxic chemicals. 

Recently, the Minnesota House passed legislation called the Toxic Free Kids Act that asks corporations that sell children’s products to report if they contain any of these highly toxic chemical compounds.  The bill wouldn’t ban the use of the chemicals.  It wouldn’t even require the products to have labels that signify they contain the chemicals of high concern.  It would simply require that any children's product containing the chemicals be reported to the states environmental and health officials where that information would be available to the public.

The bill sailed easily through the House, but a push by General Mills appears to have stalled out progress among State Senators.  House author Ryan Winkler has been told directly by General Mills that they are opposed to the legislation. 

General Mills holds a well-earned reputation as being a good corporate citizen of this state.  But by flexing its political muscle to avoid providing parents with vitally important safety information about the products they market for our children, they put this good name in jeopardy. 

As the father of child with autism, I know how important this type of information is as my wife and I make decisions about our son's health.  Unfortunately, General Mills appears determined to keep information away from parents.  It is appalling that they are opposed to the idea of simply reporting if any of their children’s products contain these toxic chemicals.

The legislature owes it to all Minnesotans to send a clear message that the health and well being of our children trumps the political concerns of even the most iconic of Minnesota companies. 

If you would like to contact General Mills and ask them to support the Toxic Free Kids Act please click here: http://www.generalmills.com/en/ContactUs.aspx

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