GM Sweet Corn in Canada: Information for Consumer Action
Genetically modified (GM, also called genetically engineered) sweet corn is being sold in some grocery stores, roadside stands and farmers markets across Canada. GM foods are not labeled, and there are no public statistics to tell us how much GM sweet corn is being grown in Canada.
There is no labelling but this is some information to help you make a choice and take action.
Field Corn vs Sweet Corn vs Popcorn
There are different types of corn, for different purposes. Sweet corn has more sugar and less starch than varieties of field (grain) corn which are used for animal feed, processed food ingredients and biofuel.
- Sweet Corn: For over a decade, Syngenta sold some GM sweet corn in Canada but in 2012 Monsanto also started selling GM sweet corn for the first time.
- Field Corn: Approximately 80% of field (grain) corn (for processed food ingredients, animal feed, and biofuels) in Canada is GM.
- Popcorn: There are no GM popcorn varieties on the market.
GM Sweet Corn
Any colour sweet corn could be GM: There are some GM varieties of yellow, white and two-colour (bicolour) sweet corn on the market.
All the GM sweet corn on the market is genetically modified to be both toxic to insects (insect resistant) and be tolerant to herbicides (herbicide tolerant). Click here for the details.
Bayer’s GM Sweet Corn
Bayer (Monsanto) sells its “Performance Series” GM sweet corn through its vegetable seed company Seminis.
Bayer put GM traits into three varieties (hybrids) of sweet corn, and now markets GM versions of “Obsession” “Passion” and “Temptation” sweet corn varieties. The GM versions are called “Obsession II”, “Passion II” and “Temptation II”.
Monsanto’s GM sweet corn is insect resistant – it produces three different Bt toxins to kill a wide range of insects – and it is also herbicide tolerant “Roundup Ready”, to survive sprayings of the company’s glyphosate herbicide formulation called “Roundup”.
Syngenta’s GM Sweet Corn
The company Syngenta sells a series of “Attribute” sweet corn varieties that are insect resistant. “Attribute II” sweet corn varieties that are both insect resistant and tolerant to Syngenta’s Liberty glufosinate herbicide and Bayer’s Roundup glyphosate herbicide.
- Ask your farmer at the roadside, farm gate, or farmers’ market if they are selling GM sweet corn. You can even ask the Farmers’ Market to check for you.
- Write to the head office of your grocery store and ask them to remove GM sweet corn from their store. Tell them you don’t want to buy it. Click here for contacts.
- Buy organic sweet corn – organic farming prohibits GM seeds and synthetic pesticides.
Questions to ask your farmer:
Farmers may not be aware that they have bought genetically engineered sweet corn – seed catalogues do not always advertise seeds as “genetically modified” or “genetically engineered” – see our Guide for Growers.
You can use some of these questions to have a discussion with your farmer:
- Is your sweet corn genetically modified (also called genetically engineered)?
- Is it “insect protected”? (This is how insect resistant GM corn is described in seed catelogues)
- Is it herbicide tolerant? Did you use Roundup or Liberty herbicides on your corn (called “LibertyLink” or “Roundup Ready”)?
- Did you sign a Technology Stewardship Agreement for this sweet corn?
- What is the name of the variety of sweet corn you planted?
- What company makes this sweet corn?
- What company or seed dealer did you buy from?
Please share your results. If you get partial information from your farmer, or grocery store, and would like to check it or discuss it, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Your actions as consumers are very influential.
Talk to your local farmer. Write to your grocery store.