Friday, July 29, 2011

It is here! Genetically Modified Sweet Corn (CBAN alert)

Urgent Consumer Advisory: Genetically Modified Sweet Corn in Canada

Issued: July 29, 2011 - Please distribute widely. This advisory is posted at

Choose organic sweet corn or ask at your Farmers’ Market, roadside stand or grocery store.

The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) and the Ecological Farmers of Ontario have confirmed that genetically modified (GM) sweet corn is being grown by farmers in Ontario who are selling at roadside stands, at Farmers’ Markets, and through some local grocery stores.

What consumers can do:

1. Buy organic sweet corn. Organic farming prohibits the use of genetic modification. Certified organic is your guarantee that your sweet corn is not genetically modified (and is also pesticide-free).

2. Ask your local farmer or manager at the farm stand or grocery store if the sweet corn they are selling is genetically modified (also called genetically engineered).

Below is a checklist of information to help you get an answer to your question. The checklist is important because:
- Some farmers may be growing GM sweet corn but not be aware that it is GM.
- Staff at the grocery store, or even the farm stand, will probably not be able to immediately answer your question and are very likely to be misinformed about GM foods.

GM corn is one of 4 GM crops grown in Canada: canola, soy, and white sugar beet (for sugar processing) are the others. The GM corn grown in Canada has been, until recently, all hard corn used for processed food ingredients and animal feed. The Canadian government does not label GM foods and does not keep national statistics on how much GM is grown or where. CBAN researches and monitors GM foods for you: for more information please see

GM Sweet Corn Check List

Tips for asking your local farmer:

Does your sweet corn have insect protection? Is it resistant to corn borer or earworm?

o   The GM sweet corn is sold under the brand name “Attribute” from Rogers which is owned by the biotech company Syngenta.
o   The GM sweet corn is genetically modified to be toxic to the European corn borer and corn earworm.
o   The GM technology that makes the plant toxic to these insects is Monsanto’s Bt “YieldGard” technology.
o   Farmers purchasing Attribute “BT insect-protected” seed will sign a “Attribute Grower Stewardship Agreement”.

What company did you buy your corn seed from? GM sweet corn is available to buy from US seed companies, including Seedway, selling “Genetically Enhanced” hybrid sweet corn seed. The sweet corn varieties are also called “insect protected hybrids” - the corn is a hybrid but it is also genetically modified. (Seedway also sells organic and untreated sweet corn seed.)

Tips for asking your grocery store, produce manager or farm stand manager:
CBAN has made a questionnaire that you can leave with your grocery store, produce or farm stand manager if necessary. Ask them to fill it out and get back to you. You can download the questionnaire at

You can also print “CBAN’s Quick Guide to GM Foods” to hand to them. Download the flyer at (If you have this information from CBAN, you will most likely have more information than your grocery store manager.)

Please contact us:

If you find GM sweet corn, please inform CBAN of the location and of any details from your conversation with the farmer, farm stand manager or grocery store manager. Please send your information to Fax 613 241 2506 or leave a message at 613 241 2267 ext 25 (this number will not be staffed until August 11). If you have questions: You can also call Ann Slater, Chair of the Ecological Farmers of Ontario GE Committee 519-349-2448

Thank you for your action!

This advisory was issued by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) and the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario July 29, 2011.

Donate today to support our work:

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) 
Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice 
431 Gilmour Street, Second Floor 
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 0R5 
Phone: 613 241 2267 ext. 25
Fax: 613 241 2506 


Green Zebra Market Garden said...

You know, GM crops aren't all that bad. I don't like how this article is alerting people to the presence of GM corn, but it never really says why we should care? It doesn't give a single argument against GM foods.

As a horticulturalist, I hate when I see articles like this. Most people's negative view of GM crops is based entirely on biased news articles...and a lack of education on the topic. If you actually educate yourself on the science behind genetic modification you'll realize that there's really not much to be concerned about.

Kris Mo said...

@Green Zebra - With utmost respect for your opinion, I have to disagree. I'm disheartened to hear of GM corn in Ontario, and I feel it IS cause for concern. While the science-marketing behind the GM machine claims that GM crops are safe, I know that there is a serious lack to research in the field that backs that claim. There haven't been ANY long-term studies of the effects of GM crops on human, animal or environmental health.

Once present in growing areas (like our Niagara fruit/veg belt, for instance) GMs are impossible to contain. Local farmers will now find their crops unintentionally 'contaminated'... it's a problem! GMs could very well be perfectly safe, but I believe that consuming them should be a choice that I make. Unfortunately, they don't need to be labeled - how can I make an informed decision if I can't identify what it is I'm buying or eating? And if some farmer's don't even know that they're selling it, how can they tell me?

I'm sad.

Linda said...

Thanks for reading, all. But yes, Kris, those are all my thoughts exactly. There are many reasons to be concerned about more GM food coming on board.
I strongly urge you to look at CBAN's website for a great deal more info about why we should all be concerned about these crops creeping into our food system.

James H said...

The evidence is already out there and gm corn contains a toxin that kills kidney cells. Some people a so trusting to think big business is going to care about us over its bottom line. Good info here ...