Yes on 37 Right to Know Campaign
As the summer winds down, family barbeques are in full swing and supermarkets are filled with shoppers searching for the right foods to grill up with friends and neighbors.
But do they really know what they're buying? What they may not know is that Walmart has admitted it will soon start selling agrichemical giant Monsanto's sweet corn, which has been genetically engineered with an insecticide inside it -- not on the corn, but IN it.
Bt toxin works as an insecticide by disintegrating the lining of insects' stomachs when they chomp on the corn. So what is this doing to the bodies of adults or children who eat the corn? We don't know.
The genetically engineered sweet
corn, which has also been manipulated at the DNA level to withstand pesticides
that are sprayed on it, has never been proven safe. The US Food and Drug
Administration require no safety testing of genetically engineered foods.
No long-term health studies have been conducted, and no labeling will be
provided to alert unsuspecting consumers exactly what they are eating.
Sign Our Petition: Tell Walmart To Label Genetically Engineered Products!
Yet there are studies showing there is reason for concern. For example, a 2009 study in the International Journal of Biological Sciences linked Monsanto's genetically modified corn to kidney and liver damage in rats.
A 2011 Canadian study found that 93% of blood samples from pregnant women and 80% of blood samples from umbilical cords contained traces of a component of Bt toxin used in genetically engineered foods.
What are the health effects of these toxins on babies and children? No one really knows.
What then should we make of a recent statement by a Walmart spokesperson who told the Chicago Tribune he sees "no scientifically valid reason" not to sell this corn? A convenient non-answer in light of the fact the US doesn't require such safety studies.
Walmart's statement is even less reassuring when you consider this quote by Phil Angel, Monsanto's director of corporate communications, who told Michael Pollen : ''Monsanto should not have to vouch for the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job.''
Meanwhile, the FDA has said , "Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety."
If the companies don't know, and the FDA doesn't know, at the very least, consumers should know. We have a right to know if our food has been genetically engineered, and we have a right to choose for ourselves whether to eat this food and feed it to our families.
Walmart's blind embrace of Monsanto's Bt toxin corn could not offer a better argument for Proposition 37 - the historic ballot initiative that would require labeling of genetically engineered foods in California.
Voters will decide on the question this fall, but not before they are bombarded with deceptive ad campaigns funded by corporations that have shoveled $25 million into the opposition, most of it in just the last week.
As Yes on 37 media director Stacy Malkan told the Associated Press , "It's an epic food fight between the pesticide companies and consumers who want to know what's in their food."
Meanwhile, Walmart should know better: Nearly half a million of its customers sent letters urging the store not to sell the genetically modified corn - but the company ignored this public outcry and took a different tact than grocery outlets like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, each of whom refused Monsanto's sweet corn offer.