This growing season there’s a new GMO in town: Monsanto’s GE sweet corn. This Roundup Ready product is the first GE corn for direct human consumption, and it has not been tested by the USDA and will not be labeled. If you're unhappy about this, you're not alone. The majority of consumers don’t want to eat genetically modified foods, and 95 percent feel strongly that they should be labeled. Many retailers, including Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and General Mills, have already agreed to not use GE Sweet Corn in any of their products—but Walmart, the country’s largest grocer and self-proclaimed sustainability adherent, has yet to make such a promise.
In a campaign reminiscent of the Starbucks rBGH campaign, (which ultimately culminated not only in a pledge by the java giant not to sell dairy from cows treated with rBGH, but also created a domino effect, causing most large retailers to make the same agreement), Food & Water Watch has initiated a national campaign to pressure Walmart to do the right thing and to live up to their sustainability claims. Just last week, Walmart launched a brand new website called The Green Room to exhibit their green credentials. Over the past couple of years they've run public relations campaigns touting their support of local farming, healthier eating and providing oases in food deserts.
Walmart sells $129 billion worth of food (taking a whopping 25% of grocery sales throughout the US, and much more in some areas) each year, making it the most powerful food retailer in the world. If Walmart agreed to not stock GE sweet corn, it is highly likely that other retailers would follow their lead. It would also relieve farmers of the economic pressure to plant the biotech seeds.
If you're in the know about GMOs, you know there’s a lot we don’t know—and a lot to be wary of. We don’t know the long term effects of GMOs on humans and a new study suggests there is reason to worry. The potential environmental risks are many, including the rise of superweedsand resistant pests, the threat to biodiversity and the inevitability of crop contamination. There are also the ethical and economic concerns associated with patenting of living organisms and the ownership of our food supply by corporations like Monsanto.
Since last fall, Food & Water Watch and their partners at the Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, CREDO Action and Food Democracy Now! have been asking consumers to sign a petition saying that they would refuse to buy GE sweet corn and are asking retailers and food processors not to sell it. As of now, that petition has over a quarter million signatures. Walmart is powerful, but consumers hold the ultimate power: all great social change starts from the bottom. Join the movement today.
To learn more about the health, environmental and ethical implications of GE technology, read Food & Water Watch’s outstanding report, Genetically Engineered Food: An Overview.