As I try to get a grasp of the corn story, I first had to understand the elements that make corn bad for you. In researching, I found that corn can basically be categorized into two groups: GMO and hybrid/non-GMO. It is very hard to find traditional corn seeds any more. GMO or Genetically Modified Organism corn means that the corn has been modified through genetic engineering at the genes level and contains genes that are not naturally occurring. Basically, it is modifying the DNA or cellular structure of the corn.
Most of the commercial corn has been modified so that it can withstand glyphosate (as in the commercial chemical herbicide Roundup) and it also termed as RR Corn (Roundup Ready Corn). This means that Roundup can be applied without affecting the corn plant as the plant absorbs the glyphosate to the individual corn kernel level. The result is you can get beautiful corn filled with glyphosate so from a commercial aspect, corn can be produced in quantity at a reduced overall production cost as you get a higher yield since no insects want to eat it no will it be affected by any disease or bacteria. If the insects try to eat them, they die.
The Big Chem will say that it is safe to eat corn that is filled with glyphosate. The US Pesticide Trade organizations also say it is safe. The major GMO corn seed producer is Monsanto and the produce for Roundup is Monsanto. In the 2012 Nutritional Analysis - Comparison of GMO Corn versus Non-GMO Corn conducted by an independent, outsourced, major food company found the GMO corn contains a similar amount of nutrients to non-GMO corn but also contained a number of elements absent from traditional corn, including chlorides, formaldehyde and glyphosate, and in harmful quantities. In case you are wondering what formaldehyde is used for – it is used in preserving corpse!
You will find conflicting studies and outcomes depending on who did them. Personally, I look for independent studies done by groups or companies not affiliated with Big Chem. It is also interesting to note that you get conflicting results from studies done within an organization in US. I guess it depends on what the policy or interest-to-be-protected is. At the same time, we all know the lobbyist play a big role. Other than the studies done by independent entities in US, I also read up on the studies done in Europe and it should be noted that the major sentiment is against GMO.
The International Agency on Cancer Research has concluded that glyphosate can possible cause cancer in humans. Monsanto discredits this study by saying that it is inconsistent with their finding. An international study has also found that it causes hormone disruption as well as resistance to antibiotics in humans.
What are these GMO corn used for apart from eating it as “corn on the cob”? The corn are used for many things:
1. Ingredient in production of feed for animals such as cows, sheep, goats and chickens. This means that these animals also become contaminated with these chemicals and are introduced into our food intake by products from these animals.
2. To make corn oil. Corn oil has been touted as being the great alternative for cooking oil and good for the heart. In exchange you may get damaged livers and kidneys and hormone disruptions.
3. To make corn syrup, a cheap sweetening alternative which are bad for your liver and kidneys.
4. To make corn flour.
5. Ingredient in cereals that are touted as being healthy alternatives. My thinking: How can it be a healthy alternative?
6. To make snacks such as popcorn and many others. There are many alternatives snacks.
I am opting for hybrid corn that has not undergone the GMO process. Hybrid corns are grown from corn seeds that were produced by crossing 2 types of corn to create a new variety with the characteristics of the “parent” corn. It involves no genetic engineering at the gene level. Some of the characteristics the hybridization seeks is drought-resistant, sweetness and color of corn. From a commercial production perspective, it costs more to produce hybrid seeds and they are not immune to chemical herbicides such as Roundup so you cannot flood a field with Roundup but will have to use alternative means to control weeds. Hence, it costs more from the production of corn perspective.
At the end of the day, I see my choices as simple:
Do I want to eat corn that can possibly cause liver and kidney failure as well as a host of other possibilities and later pay the medical costs to “cure” these diseases and endure the suffering
Do I eat good corn and pay more for it but have a better chance of not getting liver and kidney diseases and other problems and avoid the suffering?
I love corn so now we plant our own hybrid corn without the use chemical pesticides or herbicides or fertilizers. We use organic pest control and fertilizers and control weeds the “old-fashioned” way, manual weeding. The end result is we get good tasting, healthy corn. It is not difficult to plant and care for them, just requires more time. However, I find it well worth the effort.
I find it interesting that the manufacturer of Roundup and GMO corn seeds, Monsanto bought a major pharmaceutical company, Bayer. To me, it is making profits from both ends.
The onus is on us to educate ourselves. The debate continues with those with commercial interest categorically saying that GMO Corn is safe and those without, saying it isn’t or further studies needed as initial study indicates it is possible not safe. For the adults, we can make our own choices. For our children, I hope we make the right choices. Personally, I do not want my son to suffer from liver and kidney diseases as a result of the choices I made for him.