Good for Wal-Mart! Despite intense pressure by anti-biotechnology activists, the retailing giant didn’t cave in to demands that it “reject” Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) sweet corn.
Other retailers had capitulated to intimidation campaigns by Food and Water Watch, Greenpeace and similar anti-technology groups: McDonald’s, Heinz, Frito-Lay, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods. So this rare display of corporate courage, ethics and common sense should be applauded.
FWW launched its campaign in January 2012, claiming GE corn “hasn’t been tested for human safety” and contains DNA traits that “are potentially unsafe.” What utter nonsense.
All biotech crops, including GE sweet corn, have gone through years of testing, studies and approval processes by the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition, Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Environmental Protection Agency and other labs, before being placed on the market. In fact, biotech crops have been tested far more rigorously than any other foods (including organic products), hundreds of peer-reviewed studies have determined that they are safe to eat. In the 16 years since such crops were first introduced in 1996, people have eaten more than two trillion servings of foods containing biotech ingredients – without a single documented case of injury to a person.
We all want safe, nutritious food, grown under the best agricultural and environmental practices. That’s what makes biotechnology so important. By precisely inserting specific traits into the genetic makeup of important food crops, scientists have been able to make many foods safer, equally or more nutritious, and better for the environment. The following traits are especially important.
Herbicide resistance. Corn that is resistant to Roundup or other herbicides enables farmers to employ no-till techniques to control weeds, instead of using cultivators to bury them too deep to grow. This preserves soil nutrients and organic matter, increases water absorption and retention, and significantly reduces erosion – improving soil fertility and crop yields, while reducing irrigation and fuel costs.
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