Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced it has no objection to selling genetically modified sweet corn from Monsanto Company in its stores. Anti-biotech activists and consumers pleaded with the company to not sell the GM sweet corn.
“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.
Many were surprised by Wal-Mart’s acceptance of the GM sweet corn. Earlier this year, other retailers, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and General Mills, said they would not carry or use the genetically modified sweet corn.
Part of the issue of acceptance of GM sweet corn, activists and concerned consumers say, is that sweet corn, unlike field corn, is eaten directly and is not processed into other food ingredients. They say this increases the risk.
Monsanto’s GM sweet corn is modified to resist a common herbicide and contains a toxin to ward off certain pests. Monsanto claims the GM sweet corn will help reduce the amount of insecticide sprays the crop needs. But critics are not convinced that this GM sweet corn does not pose health risks.
Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at the Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, told the Chicago Tribune that an increase in the number of food allergies could be related to genetically modified foods. He questions if there is a connection between the two.