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Wal-Mart Takes a Stance on GM Foods

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Everything Wal-Mart does is closely watched. Any action taken by the world’s largest retailer can cause ripples up and down the supply chain. Its size and influence are well known throughout the industry.

So, what to make of the company’s decision to sell genetically modified sweet corn? At a time when consumer groups have successfully raised public awareness of GM foods and are leading a movement to have products made with genetically modified ingredients labeled, Wal-Mart’s actions have done more than any march, protest or petition could do to bring the issue to the forefront.

“After closely looking at both sides of the debate and collaborating with a number of respected food safety experts, we see no scientifically validated safety reasons to implement restrictions on this product,” the company told the Chicago Tribune, which first reported the story.

The corn Wal-Mart will be selling — the first crops are presently being harvested — comes from Monsanto, the giant agricultural biotech company.

Ever since the spring planting season, critics of GM methods have been calling on Wal-Mart to not carry the corn. Other retailers, including Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s, stated earlier this year that they wouldn’t carry genetically modified corn this season. Food and Water Watch, which advocates for clean water and a safe food supply, went so far as to submit a customer-signed petition to Wal-Mart in an effort to convince it not to carry the modified corn.

The announcement comes as debate over labeling GM products heats up prior to a November vote on California’s Proposition 37, which will determine whether labeling of GM products should be required in the state. Opponents and supporters of the initiative have raised millions dollars to back their individual positions. Recent filings with the state of California show that many of the nation’s food producers and marketers have donated funds in opposition the ballot question, including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, ConAgra, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

That food manufacturers are leery about GM labeling is no surprise, since an estimated 86% of all corn and 93% of soy crops grown in the U.S. are genetically modified, according to statistics quoted in the Tribune article. A “yes” vote on the ballot initiative would mean spending millions of dollars labeling packages of products for sale in the state, and millions more spent on explaining why GM ingredients were used.

Indeed, the corn Wal-Mart is selling will not be labeled.

Monsanto made a point of saying its GM sweet corn will help farmers who grow it reduce insecticide use by as much as 85%.

Statements like that complicate matters and cloud the debate. Consumers will have to ask themselves which is safer for them and their families: conventional corn or corn that has had its genetics tinkered with to make it more resistant to pests.

With its decision, Wal-Mart believes its shoppers will opt for the latter. The rest of us will have the chance to see just how important the question is long before California’s Prop 37 vote rolls around.

Discuss this Blog Entry 8

Dale (not verified)
on Sep 17, 2012

I think there's a huge difference between eating an a conventional ear of corn that may have some insecticide sprayed on the outside of the husk (which will be removed and not eaten) than with a Genetically Engineered corn plant that has been designed to have every cell of the plant, including what is eaten, produce it's own internal insecticide. This is not insignificant especially since not a single Genenically Engineered food is tested for human safety. Not a single long term human safety study is required or performed in the U.S.

I support Prop 37 to force retailers like Wal-Mart to label raw produce if it is Genetically Engineered. I have a right to know what is in the food I eat!

Amanda (not verified)
on Nov 11, 2012

Dale, you act like 'insecticide' is a four letter word. In GMO foods, all you have is piece of dna producing a new protein that tastes bad to bugs. A single protein that yes, has been tested for human safety. If the protein is not harmful to humans (or mice) in high concentrations, then the GMO+ food with that same protein in much smaller concentrations is not harmful to humans. Don't fear what you don't understand. Take a genetics class if you need to but don't let your ignorance scare you.

Human Being (not verified)
on Jun 7, 2013

Amanda, do you work for Monsanto?
Do you think any employee of Monsanto or for that matter, anyone on our governernment would consume this poison???

Human Being (not verified)
on Jun 7, 2013

Amanda do you work for Monsanto? And do you think they or anyone in our government eats this poison?

Big D (not verified)
on Jun 11, 2013

1/3 of all the bees died last winter. This is after we had barely enough to pollinate last years crops. Guess what kind of pesticide is most harmful to the bees? the nicotine based GMO pesticide. The giant bee die-offs have gone hand in hand with the development and growing of Monsanto's GMO corn. One out of every 3 bites of food you put in your mouth is pollinated by honey bees. When the bees are gone, famine of biblical proportions will arise. Is the Monsanto GMO foods causing this die off? Well, we don't know yet. But it seems to have allot of evidence pointing to it. We need more time to study this phenomenon before large scale growing begins, because if this is the reason, we can't go back later and say whoops! sorry about that. It will be too late as half the population of the earth starve to death just to make a company a buck.

Joe Green (not verified)
on Oct 13, 2013

It's already to late and the government knows this. Why do you think they've been prepping on large scales for a huge disaster to happen? They know what's going to go down, when and how it's going to happen. The only thing we can do at this point is prepare and pray because it's going to be very nasty.

gmo hater (not verified)
on Mar 4, 2014

gmo`s will kill off the bee population.. the toxins that are in the corn are consumed by humans too..
gmo`s can be used to sterilize the general population of any country without any one finding out for decades

livehealthy (not verified)
on Jun 13, 2014

Why not leave nature alone? Why messing with its DNA? I will bet you that these GMO companies won't even dare to feed their family with the GMO food that they are producing

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