TAG | organic
There’s a new superbug in town, a superbug of a different kind. And Monsanto, the biotechnology giant, is the company behind it. It seems that one of Monsanto’s biggest money-makers—Bt corn, is creating superbugs. The majority of non-organic corn planted in the U.S. is genetically modified to produce a toxic compound against western corn rootworms—a major corn pest. This corn is well-known as Bt corn, because it contains a gene from the soil microorganisms Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which produces an insecticide against the corn rootworm.
Genetically modified Bt corn worked so well against the corn rootworm that some farmers began planting it every year, instead of the usual rotation of growing corn one year and soybeans the next—a method that helps reduce pest populations. If there is one thing that farmers should know, it’s that planting the same thing every year is a recipe for disaster (even if it doesn’t seem that way at first).
It turns out the corn rootworms, much like the superbug bacteria infecting humans, are developing a resistance to the Bt toxin that usually destroys the pest. A few farms in Iowa are reporting that the Bt corn no longer kills the corn rootworm, meaning the bugs—now superbugs—have developed resistance to the Bt toxin. First superbugs in our guts, now superbugs on corn, soon superbugs everywhere.
It’s estimated that about one-third of all the corn grown in the U.S. is Monsanto’s Bt corn. Try to buy products using organic corn, or at least non-GM corn, to avoid being part of the human experiment that is the consumption of GM foods in this country. We just don’t know if they’re safe yet, and many studies suggest they’re not.
Worried about pesticides? Then you might want to think twice before buying fresh produce, warns CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta in a recent two-part series called “Toxic America”. The report, which focused on findings from the non-profit public health organization Environmental Working Group, looked at the high amounts of pesticides used on commercially grown produce.
EWG reviewed thousands of reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration and determined that even after a thorough washing the majority of fresh fruits and vegetables still contain alarmingly high levels of pesticide residue. Not only that, but some types of produce—dubbed “The Dirty Dozen”—have even higher pesticide levels due to their softer, more absorbent skins. But, says EWG, buying the organic version of those twelve fruits and veggies can “reduce your exposure to pesticides by up to 80 percent.” Here is a list of The Dirty Dozen:
- Domestic blueberries
- Sweet bell peppers
- Spinach, kale and collard greens
- Imported grapes