The GM sweet corn no one wants to buy

March 2012

Picture of corn from Wikimedia Commons
The chemical junk routinely applied to 'fresh', 'natural', 'unprocessed' fruit and veg these days is nothing short of scandalous (see for example the information on Californian strawberries, carrots and peaches in INFORMED CHOICE - March 2012).

So far, GM crops with the herbicide they're designed to tolerate and the insecticide they're designed to generate, have largely been fed to animals or processed to oblivion before they reach our dinner-plates.

Less well-known is that the biotech company, Syngenta, has been feeding Americans eight varieties of a Bt-toxin-generating GM sweet corn for a decade. So far, the scale of this has been tiny: corn to be eaten fresh, frozen or canned accounts for less than 1% of US corn acreage and GM forms only some 10% of that. Home gardeners don't buy it because “genetic modification freaks them out”. However, this might be about to change: someone else's getting in on the act.

Monsanto's latest creation is sweet corn stacked with two Bt-insecticidal genes plus a glyhosate tolerance gene, and is its first venture into consumer-oriented vegetables. Monsanto is aiming to grow its GM sweet corn on 250,000 acres in 2012, which is roughly 40% of the sweet corn market. It believes the corn will be used primarily in frozen and canned corn products, but could also be sold as fresh corn-on-the-cob through retailers.

Besides hoping to jump quietly onto Syngenta's bandwagon, Monsanto's vice president claims the Company is planning to “work to make sure we educate folks to the benefits”, an old tactic which has never worked in the past. More realistically, the public launch of the new GM sweet corn will be “very, very small” and will of course, not carry the 'Monsanto' brand because “given how sweet-corn is normally sold - by the ear in larger bins in produce sections of the market - it's not really something that can easily be branded”. Educating 'folks to the benefits' is unlikely to be necessary.

(Note that Monsanto's move into fresh GM produce is very limited The Company's veggie R&D unit has only a few GM products in the pipeline. The reason is simply that non-GM breeding techniques are more cost-effective for vegetable seeds.)

On a happier note, US GM-concern groups have already sprung into action. A coalition of health, food-safety and environmental organisations are collecting signatures from consumers who don't want to buy GM sweet corn. It's also pressing ten top national grocery retailers (including Wal-Mart, Kroger and Safeway) and top canning and frozen corn processors (including Bird's Eye and Del Monte) to ban the corn. General Mills and Trader Joe's have already decided not to use the GM sweet corn.


Monsanto's sweet corn has three novel traits inserted which have been previously assessed and approved individually. Cocktail effects are simply assumed not to exist. Bt proteins, glyphosate and its derivative are now known to be circulating inside the human body and known to be able to reach the foetus (see GM PESTICIDES INSIDE YOU - April 2011)

If you have friends or relatives in America, here's a message for them:

“Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you're not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. 'cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That's just the way it is” (Thank you Clint).

  • Carey Gillam, Monsanto launching its first biotech sweet corn, Reuters, 2.08.11
  • Monsanto enters into market for fresh sweet corn, Council for Responsible Genetics, 8.08.11
  • Carey Gillam, Food companies petitioned to ban new Monsanto GMO corn, Reuters, 27.10.11
  • International Roundup - US, Thin Ice, Issue 23, October 2011
  • Ken Roseboro, Monsanto['s GM sweet corn coming to America's dinner plates, The Organic & Non-GMO Report, September 2011

1 comment:

  1. The bottom line is people are idiots and those who deny deserve to die from eating that sh,t! Californians voted against labelling GMOs. Scotland failed to secede from England's tyranny. Is all corn in Scotland GMO free? California Gold brand sells vit c from Scotland corn, claims no GMO. Is this true? Or are you forced to plant gmos?? Is your corn cross contaminated? Please reply.


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