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A Geneticist's Take on California's Prop 37

  For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our California News page.

Genetically engineered (GE) sweet corn is being sold at a Walmart near you. And because that company has said it sees "no scientifically validated safety reasons to implement restrictions on this product," and because US regulations don't require it, it isn't labeled "GE."

Developed by Monsanto, this GE sweet corn is beautiful by fresh corn standards-not a worm hole in sight-since it contains not one, not two, but three insecticides engineered into each cell of every kernel. Having the corn make its own insecticides means that farmers don't have to spray those chemicals out in the environment. The end result is that no earworms or European corn borers will have anything to do with this good-looking GE sweet corn. But, you may be wondering: should I?

So here's the 411 on GE sweet corn at Walmart, based in large part on information available on Monsanto's website.

First, although Monsanto provides links to "Peer Reviewed Safety Publications" for many of its other GE crop products, it does not do so for its "Seminis Performance Series Sweet Corn." The peer-review process is a hallmark of scientific validation.

As it turns out, scientists have found reason for concern about the sweet corn. There's this peer-reviewed report documenting the development of resistance among western corn rootworms to one of the bacterial insecticides present in Monsanto's GE sweet corn. Another peer-reviewed study finds that weeds such as Palmer amaranth are now resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in products like Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. Since a fourth foreign gene in Monsanto's GE sweet corn confers glyphosate-resistance to it, I expect we'll see even more of these "superbugs" and "superweeds" showing up in US farmlands soon, unless this new GE sweet corn is agriculturally managed a lot more carefully than previous GE crops have been.
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