Corn is a gift from the people of Mexico, where it was first noticed and selected, to the population of the entire world. Those early seed-selectors recognized the value of this seed-bearing grass, and helped select seed for its food value, turning it into a very productive and nutritious crop. The result has fed the world – but due to recent changes, corn might now be causing health problems, according to peer-reviewed research.
Some corn has changed recently, selected for resistance to an herbicide. This GMO corn (genetically modified by Monsanto) is known to have some alarming side-effects. Europe won’t allow this kind of corn to be sold there. But US farmers are eager to export it to hungry nations. Ironically, this questionable crop is being sold to Mexicans, where it also undercuts the price which Mexican farmers get for their own corn. If GMO corn damages people and butterflies, while also putting Mexican farmers out of business, is it still a wholesome crop for people?
When a change is made to an original design, whether thru modification, or thru natural selection, it’s important to learn if the change is for good, or for ill. Simply because a change is profitable for a rich company and for wealthy farmers doesn’t automatically indicate that the change is good – especially if the health effect on consumers is bad. If a tomato has a gene from a starfish, for better frost resistance, is it still a tomato? Perhaps. But a better question might be is it still wholesome? This is a right question to ask about GMO corn.
It’s important to recognize that science has become a tool of politics as well as of truth. Questing for truth is best done without looking at costs and profits. Reality is the measure of all things, yet not easily discerned. Dollars are a poor yardstick. Is this new type of corn wholesome? Are these reports merely alarmist? Science alone, absent commercial influence, is equipped to resolve this. Politics is about benefits for interest groups, which are often selfish.
The public should be allowed to vote with our wallets, once the science (which is never complete) is reasonably settled. GMO corn should be listed on ingredient notices so people can hold a fair election in a free market at the grocery store, by choosing to buy or not buy such products. Governments which will not allow such markings on food products, blending this very different corn into the bin with regular corn, are guilty of propping up toxic food policies for profit. Let consumers decide!
Meanwhile, rich folks can buy organic corn, while poor folks are fed food fit only for lab rats (see link in comment section). But there are other grains, which will be a topic for another day.