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Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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Monsanto GM Sweet Corn: Debunking False Claims

Featured Article

By Kelly Clauss
Monsanto Public Affairs

As a wife and mother of two, I often use the Internet to find new healthful recipes and learn more about the foods – especially the nutrition of the foods – I purchase and serve my family. Sometimes finding good sources of information can be challenging.
For example, over the past several months, activists have been circulating misinformation about farmers choosing to plant and grow a biotech (or GM) sweet corn seed from Monsanto: a seed that enables farmers to reduce their use of insecticides by as much as 85 percent.

To make it worse, activists have been promoting several inaccurate, misleading or outright false claims that consumers seeking recipes and nutritional information about sweet corn could unfortunately find. Since I’ve had the pleasure to work closely with the researchers and plant breeders who developed our sweet corn products, I’d like to set the record straight on some of the misinformation you may hear or read.

Claim: GM sweet corn is the first genetically modified crop Monsanto is marketing for direct human consumption.

The truth: Biotech sweet corn is not new. While it is a new product for Monsanto, farmers have been growing biotech sweet corn from a different seed company (Syngenta) for more than a decade. In particular, U.S. farmers have been growing many genetically modified crops for food uses for more than 15 years, including squash, papaya, sweet corn, soybeans, canola, corn, cotton and sugarbeets. Millions of people have consumed processed foods with ingredients from biotech corn and soybeans without any reliably documented incidents of harm since biotech crops were introduced in 1996.

Claim: GM sweet corn hasn’t been tested for human safety.

The truth: This claim frustrates me more than the others. The fact is, it’s a scare tactic. Nothing more, nothing less. Safety is and always has been a top priority for Monsanto, as well as all of the biotech crop industry.

All genetically modified crops – whether developed by my colleagues or by researchers at any of the dozens of other companies and governmental and academic institutions worldwide that invest in biotech products – are run through a comprehensive series of food tests. These tests must demonstrate that GM crops are just as safe for consumption as their conventional counterparts before they can be grown by farmers and made available to consumers. Food scientists, food safety experts and regulatory officials around the world agree that GM foods are as safe as other widely available food products. In fact, GM foods are more rigorously tested than any other food we eat.

In the case of our biotech sweet corn, researchers conducted several studies over many years that were reviewed by The Center for Food Safety and Nutrition at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is the U.S. agency that assures the safety of our food. The safety of our biotech sweet corn was confirmed by other agencies worldwide in countries like Canada, Brazil, Japan and the European Union.

Numerous, reputable third-party organizations– such as the U.S. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietician Association), the Institute of Food Technologists, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization support the use of genetically modified crops because of their benefits, such as reduced use of pesticides.

Here’s the bottom line: The Internet has been an incredible resource for me as a mom, but it also can be complicated and time consuming to sort through opinions, speculation and misinformation to find factual, reliable information. In the case of biotech sweet corn and other biotech crops, I urge you to dig deeper and make your decisions based on facts – not scare tactics. As a mom, I diligently pursue the best foods for my family, and I can tell you that biotech sweet corn is just as safe as other sweet corn.

For more information on GM sweet corn, I’d recommend visiting any of the links listed below:

Sweet Corn Grown a Better Way” from Monsanto (where you’ll also find several links to safety information)

The safety of biotech sweet corn” from the Council for Biotechnology Information

Genetically Engineered Sweet Corn – Is it Safe?” from BestFoodFacts.org (a blog post from food system experts from across the U.S.)

Update – Oct. 11, 2012 

In June 2012, the American Medical Association (AMA) reaffirmed their earlier position that there currently is no evidence that there are material differences or safety concerns in available bioengineered foods; the position also states that there is no scientific justification for special labeling of such foods. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ position on agricultural and food biotechnology has expired and is currently under review; an updated position paper is expected to be published in 2013.

19 Responses to "Monsanto GM Sweet Corn: Debunking False Claims"

    • That article about Monsanto not serving food in that site’s cafeteria is completely fabricated. Monsanto does not have a site at that location and no one named Coombes works for Monsanto. (I happen to know that even though I don’t even work for Monsanto.) As the above author stated, don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Many people are mislead by things that seem to align with their passion. Please have seek the truth and not just things that conveniently align with your fearful emotions!

      • Jennifer — there was a comment made by an outside catering company in 1999 at that one location that led to this widepsread report. The interesting thing is that there wouldn’t have been any GM food to serve in the cafeteria at that time. Today, all Monsanto cafeterias serve the same food found in grocery stores, food shops and supermarkets. We eat what everyone else eats.

  1. The bans in France and Poland have nothing to do with safety. Even the EU said that when it overturned the ban in France.

    And yes, we serve all foods in Monsanto cafeterias, including GM food.

  2. Many Monsanto Employees also eat Organic food and it hasn’t killed us yet. Most likely there is more danger in food safety from E. coli, Salmonella, and other bacterial contaminants that have found there way into the food chain through unsanitary conditions in conventional as well as organic farming methods. My question is this–if there was a unique protein such as one of the cry proteins that could be detected in the food we eat, do we have methods available to detect them or would they be at such low levels that they would be undetectable or maybe since most food is highly processed or digested in the case of feed corn, that they would be competely non-existent.

  3. Thank you Miss Clauss!

    I read all the bad press about our company and I get so mad because we(Monsanto) seem to sit back and take it without any action.

    The truth is all corn it genetically modified in one way or another. Meaning the corn we eat now is nothing like the corn eaten by the first settlers. Over the years farmers have found ways to modifiy the corn to make it easier to grow and make it tastier. How else would we get all these different varieties available now. The seeds may not be treated in a lab but corn has been changed over time through a graf or other forms to make it a better product. So in my humble opinion all corn is genetically modified in one way are another even the organic corn.

    Thanks again for your article It is great to see someone trying to set the record straight.

    Thank you so much.

  4. I’m concerned with the bias in this post… Taking the “innocent mum looking for information” approach, when you obviously work for Monsanto or are getting paid for writing this… That’s why I’m sure my comment won’t even make it through!

    Keep at it guys you’re doing a great job!

  5. “third-party organizations…such as…the World Health Organization support the use of genetically modified crops because of their benefits, such as reduced use of pesticides.”

    The haters of GM foods sound an awful lot like Global Climate Change deniers to me.
    Evidence: GM Foods are safe. Please see peer-reviewed research.
    Haters’ claims: GM Foods are unsafe because we don’t like anything that our limited understanding of science can comprehend.

    • If the pesticide is built into the corn, even a naturally occurring pesticide, it’s not reducing the use of pesticides, it’s only hiding the use of the pesticide. There have been many articles printed about the importance of poly cultures in farming. Not too mention the fact that when you kill the ‘bad’ bugs, you are killing the good bugs with them. There are natural ways of farming that are cheaper in the long run, and much better for the land and it’s environment.

      • Amber do you realize that Bt is the most commonly used insecticide in certified organic farming? Do you understand that Bt produced in the crop is more selectively targeted at pests than Bt sprayed on a field by an organic farmer. Polyculture is great but organic farmers still use pestcides.

  6. Label It. Put it in writing on the products. If GM’s are not only “safe” but “beneficial” in crop production, then why not gleefully label each product with “Contains Genetically Modified Ingredients.” Monsanto can champion the world’s “reduction of pesticides” with patented results and ride a big white corporate horse all the way to the bank with We The People’s backing if they could just quit beating around the ROUNDUP bush. Otherwise, your statements as well as Monsanto’s read like: “Lead in paint safely reduces the use of lead.”

  7. As a person who works in the health and sciences field, here are a couple concerns I have that I don’t see addressed: Is there anticipation of/concern that GMO crops (roundup ready, etc) will create a problem of resistant weeds? Cousins of mine who farm cotton in the American Southeast are dealing with a nasty roundup resistant weed called Mare’s Tail. As a physician I see that with our use of antibiotics we have pushed the evolutionary gas pedal and ‘created’ several nasty bacteria: Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus, Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA), As well as various resistant strains of strep, e. coli, and Clostridium Difficile.

    Also, I rarely see studies about the effect of chronic ingestion over time of glyphosate, not to mention run-off of glyphosate into our water system, and its effects, especially in chronic doses. And we haven’t even started into it about the insecticides and the bees (although as I understand it, that’s mostly Bayer’s realm)

    When I think of GMOs and roundup ready, these are the concerns that come to my mind.

    Lastly, if there weren’t such a reactionary tone from the anti-GMO side, perhaps monsanto would be more apt to proudly label their products (perhaps). Although I must call out Kelly as well. You are the paid PR person for Monsanto so when you talk about finding misinformation on the internet, unfortunately you are a hairsbreadth from (if not already in) that category. Thanks

    • I’m very glad a physician is voicing their opinion. The path agriculture has taken is more devastating to our environment than ever. I have talked with several farmers from the Midwest that say they have actually had to increase the amount of pesticides they use due to the resistance weeds and pests are evolving into. So, I don’t know where this “up to 85% reduction” fact is coming from, but obviously not the farmer. Maybe it comes from he current and former Monsanto employees that are working for the USDA , FDA or EPA. It seems pretty easy to sway the facts in your favor when you have the money and people on the inside.
      I also don’t trust a company that sues the pants off of small farmers who save seeds because monsanto’s crops have contaminated their fields.

      • Monsanto has never sued any farmer for accidental pollination of their fields. Not once.And we’ve said we never will. This is a piece of propaganda promoted by anti-GM organizations. And it’s simply not true — no one has yet been able to identify a single farmer we’ve supposedly sued for this, because there isn’t one.

  8. Thanks for that! I get tired of the highly uniformed nature of the anti-“Frankenfood” folks … if you read the original story of Frankenstein, you’ll see a lot of parallels with this particular witchhunt. Frankenstein’s “monster” was actually a highly intelligent and helpful creation, who was rejected and abused for no real good reason.

    I think that GMO techniques have a really good chance of creating good safe food … better than mass pesticides for sure. But I also wonder if the ancient South Americans who invented corn, weren’t practicing their own kind of genetic modification. Some of the temples were very high up on mountains, where there would be more natural background radiation. Maybe they noticed that seeds stored up there … or in some other radioactive sacred place … got more “random” mutations. Certainly they did some incredible genemods.

  9. God created corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, sugar beets, and all other food and animals and plants just the way they should be. Once you start messing with that, things will not be “better”. No good will come from playing God with our food…. or planet for that matter.


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