It’s sweet corn season and we often times get questions like “Why in the world is organic corn so expensive?” Or, isn’t corn bad? Well, there is a big difference between organic corn and conventional corn. And about GMO’s well, we are glad you brought the subject up! To weigh in on the subject is one of our resident food bloggers, with a little info on GMO corn and how to avoid GMO’s in our food source.
Written by Food Blogger Christine Fontanin:
A GMO (genetically modified organism) is an organism (i.e. plant / food product) where DNA from one organism is extracted and introduced into the DNA of a completely unrelated organism. This is not a hybrid. The unknown long term effects of GMOs are not completely known, but are quite controversial in the scientific and natural-minded community. In 2012, 88% of corn grown in the United States was genetically modified (USDA).
GMO corn has been genetically engineered to kill insects by creating its own pesticides (Bt toxin) and so that you can spray it with Round-Up (i.e. glyphosate herbicide) and it won’t die it…. totally freaky. I’ve personally grown corn and I know how susceptible it is to bugs. You can go to bed with beautiful rows of corn growing in your garden and wake up with it being totally decimated from caterpillars. I also have seen Round-Up used on weeds and know how utterly effective it is at killing.
The Bt Toxin in the GMO corn is ingested by the insect when it takes a bite of corn. The toxin binds to the digestive tract of the insect and pretty much puts holes in its digestive system. This allows the bacteria (e. coli etc.) from the insects guts into its blood stream and kills it from sepsis (University of Kentucky Agriculture)
. Since the Bt toxin in GMO corn is genetically engineered into the corn (i.e. this is not a spray application on the outside of it), the toxin resides in every plant cell and tissue of the corn all the time. You won’t be able to wash it off, instead you eat it. Round Up (glyphosate herbicide) has been claimed by several scientists to be associated with a range of health problems and diseases, including Parkinson’s, infertility and cancers (Entropy)
. Roundup and other toxic synthetic chemical pesticides are banned in certified organic farming. Organic farmers cannot knowingly plant GMO seed.
Simply put, GMO corn freaks me out. GMO soy and GMO sugar is a close second. The reason being is that corn, sugar and soy are in the vast majority of everything you buy in a box. The latest reports are that insects and weeds are becoming resistant to the GMO corn anyways (Yale
), but Monsanto is hard at work creating new and stronger varieties of GMO corn to repel these now “superbugs.” At some point, I feel like something that is so toxic to other forms of life may very well be toxic to all forms of life; including humans. The fact that you can buy 12 ears of conventional corn for $1.00, but 1 ear of organic corn is at least $1.00 is telling.
Beyond the obvious corn, corn chips and corn tortillas, here is just a partial list of products
that contain GMO corn or GMO corn products such as corn syrup, corn starch and baking powder (usually leavened with corn starch). Love your tortilla chips? We do! Just switch to blue corn chips instead cooked with sunflower oil (as of now, blue corn is non-gmo). Even conventional meat isn’t free from the GMO stream. Enjoying your steak? Chances are, unless it is organic or grass fed, the cow was fed with GMO feed. Even Cheerios, one of the first foods given to many babies is made with corn starch, so it is most likely a GMO food. The only true way to best avoid GMO corn and corn products are to (1) buy organic and (2) stay out of the center aisles at the grocery store. In the produce department the only known GMO items right now are corn, soybeans (also known as edamame), and some versions of zucchini.