Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"My Corn Tastes Like Paper; Is It Genetically Engineered?

In response to yesterday's post about Wal-Mart's decision to sell Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) sweet corn (which will not be labeled as such, so customers will have no idea what they are buying), a loyal Delicious Truth reader asked:
"I had absolutely awful corn last night, bought at my City Market-King Soopers [supermarket]. It felt like I was eating paper. How do I find out if that corn is genetically engineered? Would a manager of a store know?"
These are actually two different issues. Corn (or tomatoes, apples, walnuts, etc.) tasting like paper is possible with organic corn, tomatoes, apples or walnuts. However, corn's shelf life is very short, so it's possible that your corn was more than a couple days old, leading to the dearth of flavor.

As for who to ask, I'm not sure the store manager would have an answer, especially since Kroger, which owns City Market-King Soopers, is mum on the issue. According to one of the Chicago Tribune articles I cited yesterday, "The Safeway and Kroger grocery chains did not respond to inquiries from the Tribune about the issue."

What to do to insure that you are avoiding GE corn? If feasible, buy organic corn. Organic food products, by definition, cannot contain any GE ingredients. If organic isn't an option, try to buy corn directly from a farmer who you've asked what kind of seed he uses to grow corn.

Incidentally, there's a chance some of us have already eaten genetically engineered sweet corn. According to the Tribune:
"Monsanto's corn is not the first genetically modified sweet corn to hit U.S. retail stores — Syngenta's version has been available for a decade and makes up about 3 percent of the market, according to the company . . ."


Anonymous said...

I've heard that bi-color corn is by definition Genetically Engineered. Would you know if that's true?

Chef Rob said...

My understanding is that bi-color corn (yellow and white kernels) is simply the cross-pollination of a yellow corn variety with a white corn variety. This is not genetic engineering, which "transfer[s] genes between organisms that are not sexually compatible."

Read more about the differences between genetic engineering and selective breeding here: