A Passionate Voice
Even at an early age, Cheryl Day was a passionate and practical advocate for agriculture. Check out her viewpoint on current agricultural topics.
Mom's Stamp of Approval
Sep 17, 2012
Peeling back the husk, this ear of sweet corn reveals a savory nutritional treat from this past summer growing season. What do you see?
Is your mouth water, yet?
Can you just taste the melting butter drizzling down the ear?
Does the fact that the ears have no evidence of insect damage, appeal to you?
If you went to the grocery store or farmers market and saw this sweet corn, would you buy it?
This summer, my family had the wonderful opportunity, granted to us by the Monsanto Company, to grow a new type of sweet corn, Semis Performance Series™ Sweet Corn Obsession II. Sweet Corn naturally designed to reduce unwanted insects from having Thanksgiving Dinner.
Yes, this sweet corn is a product of biotechnology. Okay, before you hit the "X", close the window, and stop reading this blog post let’s have an honest to honest discussion Mom to Mom/Dad, Consumer to Consumer about this new type of sweet corn.
First, let us put the word "Biotechnology" into perspective. Simply put: biotechnology is the scientific discoveries about living things to solve problems. Advances in Biotechnology, now allows scientists to extract desirable DNA from one species [naturally- occurring] and inserting it in another [genetically modified organism-GMO].
On a large scale, farms that produce sweet corn for your local grocery stores report they use 85% less insecticide by utilizing this technology [Bt Sweet Corn]
Insects can create an uphill battle for growers of sweet corn. In order to combat unwanted pests, the sweet corn plants must be sprayed with insecticides. This new type of sweet corn contains beneficial built in protein [Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt] design to protect the plant from insects into the actual seed.
A Consumer's Viewpoint
For the readers that grow your own sweet corn or purchase corn in the husk: How many times during the prep time you peeled back the husk and greeted by a big old bug -OR- Spend your precious time cutting insect damaged spots from the ear? I know over the years of actually growing sweet corn I have discarded many insect damaged ears unfit for eating. Wasted $$$ down the drain-right?
Well, I am happy to report during the prep of the Bt Sweet Corn I could not find evidence of insects. In fact we did not spray our patches once for insects. Our patches of sweet corn were shared by many in the community-friends-family and all agreed it was a pleasant experience to not lose ears to insect damage. For moms and consumers this means more bang for the buck.
The headlines scream Wal-Mart to sell genetically modified sweet corn. Personally I say "Good for Wal-Mart for seeing the value in this product." For sweet corn farmers, they can now raise a nutritional quality product that provides the consumer more corn for their money on the same amount of land.
You have probably seen anti-GMO fearing new technology groups fill Social Media feeds with doubt about Bt Sweet Corn. Their messaging is designed to question your food choice.
How can parents feed this to their children?
Look, I say bravo if you do some research about your food-in fact I invite you to. However, I encourage you to gather the facts not give into the fear.
For example, did you know that Bt protein is used by Organic Farmers to control insects also. It is allowed in certified organic farming operations because Bt is a natural, non-pathogenic bacterium that is found naturally in the soil. Bt can be found everywhere in the world. Bt works when the protein is eaten by insects and spores form in the insect's gut. The spores are not spread to other insects or cause disease outbreaks. Bt has been tested safe for all higher animals and humans.
"The EPA (environmental protection agency) has not found any human health hazards related to using Bt. In fact the EPA has found Bt safe enough that it has exempted Bt from food residue tolerances, groundwater restrictions, endangered species labeling and special review requirements. Bt is often used near lakes, rivers and dwellings, and has no known effect on wildlife such as mammals, birds, and fish." -University of California
So when anti-GMO groups encourage you to switch to Organic Sweet Corn due to exposure to Bt Protein, you can just smile because you know the facts: Bt is safe, natural and good way to reduce the amount of insecticide sprayed over the sweet corn plant AND chance are the farmers who raise Organic Sweet Corn also use the exact same Bt protein.
Remember Bt Sweet Corn, traditional Sweet Corn, and Organic Sweet Corn all have the exact same nutritional value. If you can save grocery dollars by purchasing a sweet corn that provides a quality product with less spoilage then you walk away a winner.
Benefits of Bt Sweet Corn
Editor Note: The Monsanto Company provided a free bag of sweet corn seed for my family and me to share our perspective and experience. I promise to be frank and honest.