Monsanto plans on launching its first commercial genetically altered consumer-oriented vegetable product. The new GE sweet corn will be sold on the ear, with or without husk, in the produce section of grocery stores.
The GE corn would be used in canned and frozen foods as well as sold fresh and will be indistinguishable from conventional corn because the FDA does not require genetically altered food products to be labeled.
However, Reuters news service reports opponents are petitioning national food retailers and processors to ban Monsanto’s GE corn because it’s unlabeled.
A coalition which includes the Center for Environmental Health, the Center for Food Safety, and Food & Water Watch, have collected more than 264,000 petition signatures from consumers who do not want to buy the corn.
In addition to pressuring 10 of the top national retail grocery stores to ban the corn, including Wal-Mart, Kroger and Safeway, the coalition is also asking top canned and frozen corn processors including Bird’s Eye and Del Monte to ban the modified corn.
“Consumers deserve to know what’s in their food, especially when there is a pesticide in every bite,” said Charles Margulis of the Center for Environmental Health. “This whole, unprocessed corn has been spliced with genes that produce a risky, untested insecticide. Parents should be informed when food on supermarket shelves has been genetically altered.”
Reuters points out that critics are worried genetically altered crops, including the new sweet corn, pose environmental and health risks that include food allergies and unknown long-term health effects.
Additionally, “herbicide-resistant crops are fueling a rise in ‘super weeds’ that are hard to control because they are resistant to herbicide, and in many areas of the country the weeds are so prevalent they are limiting crop production.”
More and more pressure is being applied on Monsanto to ban/and or label their GE food products. Earlier this year, over 270,000 organic farmers sued Monsanto, challenging the company’s patents on genetically modified seed.
The plaintiffs decided to sue Monsanto preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should their crops ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed.
The petition was filed on behalf of a coalition of more than 350 companies, organizations, scientists, doctors and individuals who believe consumers have a right to know if the food they’re eating has been genetically altered.
In India, The National Biodiversity Authority of India (NBA) has also sued Monsanto, this year as well as the company’s Indian partners who developed a genetically-modified eggplant.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh claimed there was not enough public trust to support the introduction of GM crops into India’s food supply until more research was done to remove all doubts that GM foods were safe for consumption.
Ramesh said the opposition to GM foods was so heated that some protesters burned effigies.