Unionville, CT, August 15, 2023 – Toxin Free USA, a nonprofit dedicated to consumer protection and education, launched a campaign urging Whole Foods Market to stop selling fresh GMO sweet corn.
Whole Foods Market claims to be the "Organic Capital of the World" and advertises, "We don’t just put organics on a shelf — we put them on a pedestal."
But this summer, the only fresh sweet corn displayed and sold at many Whole Foods’ stores across the country is GMO sweet corn produced from patented Bayer-Monsanto or Syngenta seed.
Whole Foods’ customers have spotted the GMO sweet corn in the produce section in Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, Virginia, Texas, Washington state and Washington DC. The genetically engineered White and Bi-Color Corn are in bins with signs indicating "Bioengineered Food" in fine print. “Bioengineered” is the USDA’s new term for GMOs.
"Whole Foods has led us to believe that the food they sell is healthy and clean. We let down our guard and shop in confidence without reading the fine print, willing to buy food priced at a premium. We’ve been duped," said Pamm Larry, Director of Butte County Local Food Network and Board Member of Toxin Free USA.
The GMO sweet corn is genetically engineered (GE) to produce up to three insecticides. The GE insecticides are in every cell of the corn and cannot be washed off. Additionally, the corn is genetically engineered to tolerate glyphosate or glufosinate-based herbicides, or both.
GMO proponents claim that the insecticides in the corn are safe, naturally occurring soil bacteria – the same as an insecticidal soil bacteria used in organic farming called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). But science does not support those claims.
The insecticides are genetically engineered versions of Bt - not the same as the soil bacteria used in organic agriculture. In a 2017 peer reviewed analysis, published in the journal Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews, the researchers concluded that references to any GE Bt toxins being "natural" are incorrect and scientifically unsupportable.
The amount of GE Bt ingested in a bite of GMO corn as compared to any natural Bt residue that might remain on organic corn is many thousands of times higher.
This insecticidal corn is designed to kill insects that bite into it. The insects’ stomachs rupture and they die. It has been linked to cell membrane death of digestive cells, causing leaky gut in laboratory animals, according to 2018 peer reviewed research published in the journal Food and Nutrition Sciences. Another 2018 peer reviewed study, published in the journal International Immunopharmacology, found that GE Bt is immunogenic, allergenic, and causes pre-cancerous intestinal changes. Even a Monsanto patent described the GE Bt as “super toxins.”
GMO corn is sold as a "system", at premium prices. Farmers purchase the seeds and the corresponding herbicide(s). Corn that has been genetically engineered to tolerate glyphosate and/or glufosinate is doused with those toxic chemicals during the growing season, killing all other plants except for the GMO corn. The herbicides are both absorbed into the crops and pollute the environment.
Glyphosate is a well known herbicide that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified as a probable human carcinogen in 2015. As of May, 2023, Monsanto has settled over 100,000 Roundup cancer lawsuits, paying out about $11 billion as of May 2022. There are still 45,000 lawsuits pending.
Glufosinate has been found to be both teratogenic (linked to DNA damage and birth defects) and neurotoxic (linked to autism) in peer reviewed studies.
Both chemicals are toxic to beneficial insects such as butterflies, bees and other pollinators.
Studies show that industrial, GMO agricultural practices drive increased use of synthetic pesticides and other fossil fuel-based chemicals. These toxic chemicals are harmful to people, wildlife, the environment and contribute to climate change, biodiversity loss and water pollution. Synthetic pesticides also harm the organisms that live in the soil, disrupting soil ecosystems. Dead soil can’t sequester carbon and it doesn’t produce healthy food.
Whole Foods claims on its website and in its 2023 annual Impact Report that the company’s purpose is "to nourish people and the planet" and it "aims to set the standards of excellence for food retailers." The company claims to "sell the highest quality natural and organic foods and to satisfy and delight its customers."
Selling unhealthy and environmentally unsustainable GMO sweet corn is evidence that the company fails to deliver on those claims.
"Putting toxic, environmentally damaging GMO corn on a pedestal is a slap in the face of Whole Foods’ customers. Greenwashing is the only word that can describe the company’s actions. Even being an aware shopper, I originally didn’t notice the corn they were selling is GMO. It isn’t just an option alongside organic, it’s Whole Foods’ only option in many stores. This is a shock to me, having shopped at Whole Foods for many years. We expect better from the company," said Luan Van Le, Toxin Free USA Communications Director.
Toxin Free USA is calling on Whole Foods to stop selling the GMO sweet corn and to pledge to not sell any in the future. The nonprofit is calling on their supporters and Whole Foods’ customers to email and call the company to ask them to stop selling the GMO corn and bring back organic sweet corn to all of their stores.
Supporters can take action HERE.
GMO/Toxin Free USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit advocating for a clean, healthy food system and environment, non-toxic consumer products, and educating consumers about the hazards of GMOs, synthetic pesticides and other toxins. www.toxinfreeusa.org