Walmart: Label Genetically Engineered Products

NOTE: This is a guest post from Zack Kaldveer, Assistant Media Director for the Yes on Prop 37 campaign.

Labor Day is just around the corner and that means friends, family and neighbors will be gathering together to grill up their favorite foods. Barbeque season will be in full swing, and that means supermarkets will be filled with shoppers searching for the usual assortment of typical fan favorites like chicken, steak, burgers, and corn on the cob.

But when it comes to the new sweet corn that Walmart will be selling, do people really know what they’re buying? This new sweet corn, thanks to Monsanto, the world’s largest agribusiness corporation, has been genetically engineered with an insecticide inside it — not on the corn, but IN it.

The Bt toxin infused in the corn works as an insecticide by disintegrating the lining of insects’ stomachs when they eat the corn. So what might this do to the bodies of adults or children? We don’t know.

The genetically engineered sweet corn, which has also been manipulated at the DNA level to withstand pesticides that are sprayed on it, has never been proven safe. The US Food and Drug Administration require no safety testing of genetically engineered foods. No long-term health studies have been conducted, and no labeling will be provided to alert unsuspecting consumers exactly what they are eating.

Yet there are studies showing there is reason for concern. For example, a 2009 study in the International Journal of Biological Sciences linked Monsanto’s genetically modified corn to kidney and liver damage in rats.

A 2011 Canadian study found that 93 percent of blood samples from pregnant women and 80 percent of blood samples from umbilical cords contained traces of a component of Bt toxin used in genetically engineered foods.

What are the health effects of these toxins on babies and children?  No one really knows.

What then should we make of a recent statement by a Walmart spokesperson who told the Chicago Tribune he sees “no scientifically valid reason” not to sell this corn? A convenient non-answer in light of the fact the U.S. doesn’t require such safety studies.

Walmart’s statement is even less reassuring when you consider this classic quote from Phil Angell, then Monsanto’s director of corporate communications, who in 1998 told Michael Pollan: “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.”

Meanwhile, the FDA has said, “Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety.”

If the companies don’t know, and the FDA doesn’t know, at the very least, consumers should know. We have a right to know if our food has been genetically engineered, and we have a right to choose for ourselves whether to eat this food and feed it to our families.

Walmart’s blind embrace of Monsanto’s Bt toxin corn could not offer a better argument for Proposition 37 — the historic ballot initiative that would require labeling of genetically engineered foods in California.

Voters will decide on the question this fall, but not before they are bombarded with deceptive ad campaigns funded by corporations that have shoveled $25 million into the opposition, most of it in just the last week.

As Yes on 37 media director Stacy Malkan told the Associated Press, “It’s an epic food fight between the pesticide companies and consumers who want to know what’s in their food.”

Meanwhile, Walmart should know better: Nearly half a million of its customers sent letters urging the store not to sell the genetically corn — but the company ignored this public outcry and took a different tact than grocery outlets such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, each of which refused Monsanto’s sweet corn offer.

Reasonable people may disagree on the health and environmental risks of genetically engineered foods, but the American public is in overwhelming agreement — across party lines — about one thing: the need for labeling and the inherent right for consumers to know what’s in our food.

The FDA received more than a million comments from concerned citizens on a petition demanding that genetically engineered foods be labeled, and poll after poll indicates that 90 percent of Americans (and Californians) agree. And in just a 10-week period earlier this year, an army of petitioners in California gathered nearly one million signatures, easily qualifying Prop 37 for November’s ballot.

Yet, this overwhelming public desire for the right to know what’s in its food continues to fall on deaf ears. The FDA has made it abundantly clear it is adopting a “trust the companies” philosophy over a “trust the people” one.

This leaves California voters with the final say on November 6. Do we want to know what’s in the food we eat, or is that decision better made by corporations that don’t want us to know what they are doing to the food system?

Sign Our Petition: Tell Walmart To Label Genetically Engineered Products!

Zack Kaldveer is the assistant media director for the Yes on Prop 37 campaign and former communications director of the Consumer Federation of California, and editor of the California Progress Report.

Related Stories:

GM Foods: Isn’t it Your Choice?

The GM Apple That Won’t Turn Brown

Genetically Engineered Salmon No Laughing Matter

Photo courtesy of CA Right to Know.

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Chioma Okeke
Chioma Okeke2 years ago

university of nigeria has series of conferences,lecuter and workshop for people to learn new things

Wendy Schroeder
Wendy Schroeder3 years ago

Don't buy at Wal-mart unless there is no other store you can buy your food at. Wal-mart is evil.

Diane L.
Diane L.3 years ago

Oh Good GRIEF, Anna, what does a long ago deceased Native American (a century ago) have to do with Walmart or Monsanto's GMO'd corn?

Chief Sealth was a great leader, but I doubt he would have had much influence on where 97% of the corn sold or is available for consumption in the world now comes from, even if he was still living.

Leen Kel
Leen Kel3 years ago

Walmart..pls do have honesty, integrity and courtesy! People consumer do have choice, FREEDOM & RIGHTS to know what they are buying and eaten.

paul m.
paul m.3 years ago


Brian M.
Past Member 3 years ago

Americans have the right to know.

Dan B.
Dan Brook3 years ago

YES on CA Prop 37!

Don't let the Monsanto monster beat us down!

Please help out to support Prop 37 in California, which would require the labeling of GMOs. If we can't ban these potentially dangerous engineered products, we can at least give consumers the right to know.

This will have a major impact across the country and possibly around the world.

Join us:

spread the word through social media and elsewhere; donate $; volunteer from anywhere by phone banking; vote; write letters to the editors; call talk shows; talk to friends and neighbors; make posters; distribute fliers; wear a button; etc. Do whatever you can.

YES on Prop 37!

Laurie Greenberg
Laurie Greenberg3 years ago


Lourdes A.
Lourdes Acevedo3 years ago

signed....thank you!

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla3 years ago

Signed and shared! Fortunately we don´t have any walmarts here (Nicaragua) but it is more than fair that they label their products! 100% support