It’s reasonable for General Mills, the makers of Honey Nut Cheerios to be invested in the well being of bees, given that one-third of the title of the digestible version of their product is in peril. So much so that it’s becoming viable to do away with the little suckers entirely and make robotic drones to replace them. So General Mills decided to take up the charge with their Bring Back the Bees campaign. At the start, the campaign was about raising awareness and hadn’t achieved anything substantial such as creating some reserve or donating money, all done under the slogan that their mascot Buzz the Bee was missing. Then General Mills got the idea to give away packets of wildflower seeds to anyone who signed up on their website in North America under their hashtag #BringBacktheBees.
And that’s when it all went wrong.
What’s The Problem?
As far as anyone can tell these packets contained entirely random mixed bags of various wildflower seeds which were a problem because, well, North America is a really big place and in that really big place there are lots of different ecosystems. We’re not going to label all of them because that’s what high school biology is for and you should have paid attention. But these ecosystems, despite being completely functional on their own, have elements that can prove dangerous if transplanted elsewhere. It’s why environmentalists get mad when corporations get their hands on a wetlands because a lot of what exists there, can’t be moved.
The Risk Flowers
Among the packets of mixed seeds distributed nationwide are several seeds that are banned or otherwise noted as noxious pests in different states.
For example, the Forget-Me-Not is labeled as a prohibited in Massachusetts and outright banned in Connecticut according to the USDA while the California Poppy is a weed and invasive in Tennessee. And these are just two of the wildflowers on the list.
The Worst Case Scenario
There’s a lot of risks when introducing new plants to a different environment, and while some of these seeds aren’t likely to go much further than their packets, there is still a real risk of these spreading.
“Invasive species can out-compete the natives they encounter,” Said Kathryn Turner, an ecologist who spoke with Lifehacker on the subject, ”they can take up all the space and use up all the resources, they can spread disease, and cause other physical changes to their new homes, all of which can have detrimental effects on native species, and on humans.”
What Cheerios Has to Say
So far General Mills hasn’t responded to these reports, still proudly advertising their Bring Back The Bee campaign on the company website and across their social media channels and that they proudly gave out 1.5 billion seeds. Veseys Seeds Ltd, the Canadian Family run business who helped in the project explained on their Facebook page that the plants selected were not considered invasive by Canadian standards to which they strictly adhered.
But hey, if it all goes south, at least you still have regular Cheerios. Delicious, dull, cardboard Cheerios.