The BBC has found that more than 40% of all cereals sold in Britain are not whole wheat, but contain at least part of a genetically modified corn, soy or sugar behemoth.
The figures are based on a survey of 2,000 adults by the independent food website Food and Wine magazine.
It found that around half of the cereal sold in the UK is genetically modified and is produced with either corn or soybean seeds.
This means that about a quarter of all cereal, including those made with oats, barley or rice, is made from genetically modified ingredients.
The vast majority of these are made with genetically modified wheat, with up to 60% of the whole grain cereals on sale.
A further 25% of cereals contain some form of corn, oats or rice.
Many other cereals, including whole grains, are made from other plant sources, with the number of whole grain products in the market dropping to just under 3% in the last decade.
But this does not mean that most people are avoiding whole grains.
A majority of people, 53%, said they eat some type of whole-grain bread and cereals in the form of pasta, breadsticks, crackers or tortillas.
A quarter of people also said they ate some type or the other, such as pasta, rice or bread.
The average adult in the country has been eating around 7.5lb (3kg) of bread per year for the past 12 months, Food and Drink said.
It said the survey was commissioned by the British Association of Commercially-Sourced Cereals (BACSC), a trade body.
“The data shows that while the bulk of consumers are not eating a whole-wheat product, the vast majority are still eating a variety of cereal products that have been modified to contain some or all of a GMO,” it said.BACS chief executive David Gaughan said: “It is important to stress that while many of us have grown up with a healthy diet, the fact is we have also grown up in a world that has moved away from a diet based on whole grains.”
“We have to be honest about the fact that in a modern, urbanised world where there is so much convenience, we can have a whole lot more of a variety than we ever had before.”
Mr Gaughon said there were currently more than 1,000 BACSC-approved whole-grains brands.
Bacsc is a group of food manufacturers, retailers and traders which sets standards for foods to be sold in their member countries, with many companies including Tesco and McDonald’s among the biggest sellers.
A spokesperson for Tesco said: We are committed to promoting the health benefits of our food.
We have a very wide range of whole grains and other plant-based foods on offer, including our famous Bacchusia brand.
“Our brands offer a wide variety of flavour and texture choices and they are safe and nutritious.
We offer a range of packaged products, including baked goods and fresh baked goods, which offer the best possible value for money.”
The spokesperson added that the company was not a BACS member and had not been for several years.
In a statement, the Association for the Advancement of Science in Food and Nutrition said: There is a growing recognition of the importance of whole food sources of nutrition, and the fact remains that a healthy eating lifestyle is the key to a long and healthy life.
“However, we do not believe that whole-meal products are the only viable option for people who want to maintain their weight.”
“The BAC’s guidelines also recognise the importance for people to make choices about the foods they eat and the amounts of food they consume.”
We believe whole grains are an important part of healthy eating.
“It is also important that the food supply remains safe for all.”
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