When you Google Monsanto, the website link has both the company's name and its slogan -- A Sustainable Agriculture Company. It's a website that works very hard from the first click to reframe the conversation around the most controversial issue in worldwide agriculture. Perhaps with good reason. The search was prompted by overheard conversations at the market last week as customers eyed the season's first corn with unmasked suspicion, asking if it was genetically modified. A quick survey of farm employees revealed that few even knew what GMO crops were. And the customers who asked didn't know exactly why GMO corn might be bad for them. They had simply been told to avoid it, either by friends or via one of thousands of links on the Internet.
Felicia Friesema Bi-color corn from Yasukochi Farms at the Hollywood market
According to Monsanto's website, more than 16 million farmers are growing genetically modified or biotech crops in more than 28 countries, including the U.S. And according to the Non GMO Project -- North America's only third party verification and labeling for non-GMO foods -- 40 percent of the sweet corn market in the United States is grown from genetically modified seed. Monsanto claims that people have been eating GM crops since 1994 with no ill effects. Unsurprisingly, many beg to differ. The Non GMO Project says there's "a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers' and consumers' rights." Neither website provides access to impartial third party info that might shed some light on the issue.
Bottom line: Is the corn we so desperately want to toss onto the grill and slather with butter and salt genetically modified? And what does that mean? Is one of summer's most cherished farm foods actually a pesticide?More »