Fear of the unknown motivates many of the decisions in America. Even worse fear and propagandas motivate many of the decisions made by everyday Americans. To compound the fear issue, people are so busy that they have little time to do their own research, and so they depend on what they hear on the news, read in the paper, or worse yet see on the Internet.
However, gone are the days of bias free reporting, if they ever existed in the first place. It seems everyone in America has an agenda these days. HSUS wants animals to have the same rights as children and for Americans to all be vegetarian. Politicians want to stay in office. Doctors want politicians and lawyers to stay out of medicine, and they want congress to FIX the SGR payment system. Farmers want Americans to understand why they do what they do on the farm. (we all want world peace too, but even my six year old can tell you that you don’t always get what you want.)
The unknown fear that I would like to tackle with this post is the fear of genetically modified sweet corn. My family and I were lucky enough to get to taste some Seminis® Performance Series™ Sweet Corn that had been provided to us by Monsanto. This corn has been developed over the course of several years to help face some of the largest concerns in modern agriculture – sustainability and insect protection.
(As a sidebar, my girls and I spent their spring break touring Monsanto learning about their genetic research programs and more traditional crop trait analysis with seed chipping. Thanks Janice for arranging the tours my girls learned a lot and so did I.)
By utilizing modern genetic isolation techniques on the Bt protien, this strain of sweet corn can protect the corn kernels from insect pests and rootworms leading to more sustainable farming practices.
When farmers grow sweet corn with the Bt protein, they reduce:
Insecticide (pesticide) applications by as much as 85%.
Fuel and energy use, with fewer trips across the fields.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Silly me, but I like environmentally friendly farming practices that taste good too.
Genetic isolation of certain plant traits is not a new technique in farming. We as agriculturist have been doing this for thousand of years. Watching our crops to see if certain crops yielded more than other strains. Those seeds would be kept and crossed to bring out the genetic trait that increased yield, resisted drought, fought blight, etc.
Modern technology has done has sped up this process by using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and gene analysis to isolate seeds for traits before growing out crops in fields in one method of genetic research. In another, certain genetic traits are spliced into other plants to introduce the desired traits.
Given that human beings have no genetics in common with sweet corn, I have no concerns at all about letting my family enjoy genetically modified sweet corn.
If you stop and think about it, sweet corn accounts for most of the spraying for insects done on corn plants. If we in agriculture could use a sweet corn variety that was resistant to insects and rootworm; thereby, reducing the need to spray as many airborne pollutants we would be making less of an environmental impact on our ozone layer and our waterways.
So, why are people so afraid of genetically modified sweet corn?
Maybe, it’s a fear of technology, or a fear of ingesting a food that has been changed from its original form. But most foods have been changed from their original genetic code, usually through spontaneous genetic mutation. And I think they fear the safety of this “modified corn” for their families food safety.
I found this website that list corn’s ten chromosomes and the major gene’s and their MUTATIONS that are associated with them… (FYI corn being sweet in and of itself is a mutation)
Monsanto itself has an excellent web page on food safety with GM foods.
And as of right now the FDA states that GMO products require no difference in labeling because there in no difference in the produce produced and the AMA (American Medical Association) likewise has no opposition or health related concerns against genetically modified foods.
And my personal fear is that fact that the worlds population keeps growing and they are not making any more crop land, so unless agriculture embraces techniques like GMO sweet corn, drought resistant wheat, etc., I fear that there will not be enough food to feed One Hungry Planet…
Check out the YouTube Video – One Hungry Planet