Monsanto has long been the “big bad wolf” of the debate over the health, safety and ethics of planting genetically modified seeds. Although the scientific debate is not yet concluded, environmentalists generally agree that genetically modified organisms, commonly referred to as GMOs, present a serious threat to agriculture and food as we know it.
The newest addition to this never-ending controversy is Walmart’s decision to stock Monsanto’s new Bt sweet corn. Monsanto’s GM sweet corn contains three genetically-engineered (GE) traits that have never been used in food eaten directly by people, and that have never been properly tested. According to campaigners at Sum of Us, the corn is engineered
“to protect the plant by rupturing the stomach of any insect that feeds on it. Monsanto claims the toxin will break down before the corn makes it to your dinner table, but rats fed with the GM corn showed organ failure, and the toxin has been detected in the bodies of pregnant women.”
Alarmingly, neither Walmart nor Monsanto has any intention of labeling the new corn as genetically modified.
So: is it safe for the shelves? The best response would be to withhold judgment, do more testing, and come to a conclusion once we have more scientific information. Or, at least label it if it’s going to be on the shelves. But, as tends to happen in our shoot-first-ask-questions-later system, the corn is headed for the stores, unlabeled — and soon.
Other food suppliers have agreed to wait. Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, and General Mills have all agreed not to use the new GM corn in any of their products. But Walmart, the nation’s largest organic retailer, is likely going ahead with stocking Monsanto’s latest GMO. To pressure them to hold off, the folks at Food & Water Watch have put together an action. Learn more and read about their petition to “Stop Monsanto’s GE Sweet Corn.” : http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/genetically-engineered-foods/ge-sweet-corn/act-now/