A Halloween Horror Story: Unlabeled GE Sweet Corn Coming to Your Grocery Store
By Rich Bindell
When I was a kid, there were three Halloween rules my parents made me follow: 1. I had to incorporate my coat into my costume, 2. I wasn’t allowed to throw eggs at people’s homes (I threw other things), and 3. I absolutely, positively could not eat any of my Halloween candy until it was properly inspected by the Candy Police (mom and dad). That third one drove me nuts. How on earth is a kid supposed to have the patience and discipline to hold off on digging into their stash until they get home hours later? My folks are the trusting type, but they didn’t want to take any chances that some misguided resident would do something dangerous to the candy they passed out to neighborhood children.
It seems like a simple but critical mantra to follow: always know what you’re eating. Unless, of course, some sneaky biotech company decides that we no longer have the right to know whether or not they slip something potentially dangerous into our food. Seems like quite a trick, doesn’t it? Say hello to genetically engineered sweet corn and Monsanto, the misguided company that wants to sneak their product into stores—and into your dinner—without labeling it.
In August 2011, Monsanto announced its intention to bring Roundup Ready GE sweet corn to our tables–its first genetically engineered sweet corn for human consumption—and the seed company is planning to begin growing the crop next year. And they mean business. By 2009, nearly all (93 percent) of the soybeans and four-fifths (80 percent) of the corn cultivated in the United States were grown from seeds covered by Monsanto patents, so you can imagine how quickly their GE sweet corn could spread throughout the marketplace.
Disturbingly, USDA gave Monsanto their stamp of approval without conducting independent testing, claiming that the corn seed’s three distinct traits were previously and separately approved in 2005 and 2008. This shouldn’t be the procedure for a product that’s could appear in the frozen food and canned food sections of your local supermarkets or in the produce aisle as corn-on-the-cob.
Thankfully, many consumers have already voiced their rejection of GE sweet corn. A coalition led by Food & Water Watch, CREDO Action, Center for Food Safety and Center for Environmental Health delivered more than 250,000 petition signatures to 10 national retail grocery chains, including Safeway, Kroger and Walmart, and several of the top food processors like Bird’s Eye and Del Monte. We hope these companies recognize the power of consumers who want to make informed decisions about what they eat.
You might be wondering why so many people are worked up about corn. It’s because there are documented health and environmental risks associated with GE crops. Since there is no way to tell GE sweet corn apart from other sweet corn, introducing it to consumers without a label as frozen and canned corn, or corn on-the-cob, or by including it in other processed products, is sneaky and deplorable behavior.
Now I know why my parents didn’t want me eating the Halloween candy without checking it first. There are some real creeps out there in the world and you can never be too careful.