Many news sources have reported over the past couple of months how Monsanto Co., the world's biggest vegetable seed-maker, will begin selling biotech, or genetically engineered, sweet corn this fall for U.S. consumers.
There are at least three alarming aspects to this particular veggie-gene mutation and its distribution.
First, if you wonder why the sweet corn's genes are being triple-altered, wonder no more. Bloomberg reported that "the sweet corn seeds are engineered to kill insects living above and below ground and to tolerate applications of the company's Roundup herbicide, Consuelo Madere, Monsanto vice president for vegetables, told reporters at company headquarters in St. Louis." In short, this is the first time seeds have been genetically modified to allow farmers to spray their fields with Monsanto's Roundup.
Madere added that though Monsanto is presently in dialogue with companies that can and freeze corn, the new sweet corn seeds will at first target the 250,000-acre market for fresh corn in the eastern U.S. (roughly 40 percent of the sweet corn market).
Second, corn is used in more products than any other type of produce, though admittedly, much is grain corn. For those who think they can merely avoid corn-based products, consider that out of the 10,000 or so items in an average grocery, roughly 2,500 use corn in some aspect of content or production, according to the Ontario Corn Producers' Association.
Consider just the ABCs of corn -- that is, some of the products that begin with the letter A, B or C and utilize corn. Ready? You're going to be surprised. They are adhesives (glues, pastes, etc.); aluminum; antibiotics (penicillin); asbestos insulation; aspirin; automobiles (wheels and tires, cylinder heads, ethanol fuel, windshield washer fluid, spark plugs); baby food; batteries; breakfast cereals; candies; canned vegetables; carbonated beverages; cheese spreads; chewing gum; chocolate products; coatings on wood, paper and metal; corn chips (of course); cosmetics; crayons; chalk; and instant coffee. Imagine what D-Z might contain!
Third, the science of genetic food tampering is still spurious at best and hazardous at worst.
A plethora of reports have been published to show the potential dangers to not only crops and the environment but also humans. The Daily Mail, a British newspaper, reported in 2010, "According to the research, animals fed on three strains of genetically modified maize created by the U.S. biotech firm Monsanto suffered signs of organ damage after just three months."